Sunday, 18 September 2016

Where did all the fashion go?

Revisiting the Fashion World

I've been out of the fashion loop for a few months, as you know I've been busy. I decided to take this morning to revisit my staple fashion sites to have a gander at their new stock. I'm surprised to see that we're now moving further and further away from 90's fashion in the alternative scene. In fact, Dollskill, which has been pushing that Electric Daisy shit for nearly two years, seems to have gone full blown Burning Man offering little in the way of Punk, Rave or Goth and almost entirely features garments that are boho-chic or 70's inspired. I've been aware of the 70's revival thing for some time now but I never expected it to go this far. The catalogs from standard fashion retailers, like H&M, Urban Outfitters and Forever21, are swamped with these designs. The good news: bell sleeves. The bad news: ugly pants and sweaters. There's fringe...everywhere...

I think perhaps in a previous life I might have died in the 70's and that my soul resents the shit out of that decade. Or it could be that the 70's were my mother's teen years and I've had to listen to enough Creedence Clearwater Revival to make my head explode (yes, my mum is the sort to play the same song over and over and over again for hours). I don't know why but I damn near hate almost everything about that decade. When old 70's shows would air on television I would have a visceral reaction to them, one of absolute detestation. The film quality was so dark, there's something off putting about it, especially when it's contrasted by the technicolor films of the 50's that somehow managed to make all films thereafter look like total shit. I abhorred the hair, the high collars that I for some reason will forever associate with churchgoers, the pleated pants...just, uhhhhh.

Dollskill goes...70's...

Take note that I'm not disappointed to see the 90's go. I'm a huge fan of authentic 90's fashion and to see watered down versions of classic designs that I've come to depend upon was an uncomfortable time for me. To lighten my mood I hit up Killstar, House of Widow, Sourpuss... but I'm not seeing much of anything new (Lip Service appears to be in the process of re-opening). It seems that printed shit is still going strong with Killstar. I'm sure they're going to ride that out for as long as they can but damn. I've even seen new brands crop up that are offering essentially the same product; printed leggings, tees and dresses. You would think they'd look at a brand like Kreepsville 666 and realize it can't go on forever...although that brand appears to think so as they're still offering the same fucking skeleton dress that I bought seven years ago just in three different new colours. Woot. I don't even bother checking their site anymore because it's always the same!! It's not just the redundancy that bothers me it's the fact that printed items tend to not last very long. They crack, peel and fade, and like wallpaper they can get boring, fast.

So what's a girl to do? We're past the flannel prints of the 90's "grunge" movement, you can only style a slogan t-shirt so many ways; what now?

I'm trying to go back through old catalogs to see how fashion has progressed. I've looked at Lip Service magazine clippings and I can see the progression through the decades but I feel as though we've already revisited all the older designs. Cyber punk arm and leg warmers, bondage, PVC, fishnet, tartan, skinny jeans, medieval dresses, punk jackets, faux fur coats, rockabilly, psychobilly, Dieselpunk, Steampunk; what more is there? Have we exhausted the entire span of Goth and Alternative fashion?

What's to come?

I'm not sure how we'll continue. I'm not even sure what I'd like to see. Since we can no longer really look into the past to determine the future of Goth and Alt fashion, I feel there needs to be more experimentation with designs and textiles. Perhaps a new innovative textile could bring about a new Gothic substyle. What are your thoughts? Do you think we're doomed to repeat the same styles over and over again? What have you never seen in Goth fashion before?


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Lolita Cosplay and Licensed Alice in Wonderland Costumes

Simplicity Cosplay and Alice in Wonderland Costumes

Simplicity has come out with a few new releases for fall, including some fucking stellar Star Trek costumes (check 'em out if you're a fan). I was just browsing their collections and came across another one of their attempts at Lolita. Now you may recall that I discussed their Rockabilly/Lolita hybrid (8127) in a post a few months ago. That dress pattern had been included with their normal apparel however this new pattern is listed within the costume category. These two new dresses are described as Cosplay instead of Lolita, although I'm hard pressed to identify what anime it's referencing. Also, there are some licensed Disney's Alice in Wonderland costumes which look nothing like anything from the animated film, instead they're more like that weird live action film with Whoopi Goldberg...
Simplicity 8233
Misses' Costumes

I can't help get the feeling they were trying their damnedest to make this girl appear as Asian as possible... What's with the "guh" look on her face? Is that supposed to entice us? It reminds me of soft core porn. The dresses look decent enough. I prefer the floor length dress because there's something about it that looks more balanced and refined. I'm really appreciative of the abundance of texture in both designs. I noticed the majority of the trim is pleated. I imagine without purchasing pre-pleated trim or owning a ruffling foot that would be a big bitch to tackle. Not a fan of the head piece. It looks like she's wearing a cake on her head. Overall it's not bad. Perhaps it wasn't refined enough to be considered apparel or maybe they felt it was too over the top? I still like 8127 a thousand times more but I'm curious to see how one of these dresses looks once sewn. 

Simplicity 8237
Misses' Alice in Wonderland Cosplay

When I saw these I assumed they were from the new Tim Burton film (which I've declined to see). Apparently they're Disney's Alice in Wonderland designs, they barely resemble the film they're referencing. The colours are there...but I don't think many people would make the connection to the classic 1950's animated film. Beyond the wigs, these costumes are actually rather generic and not too different from some of their out of print releases (i.e. Simplicity 4015, 2525 and 3685). I'm sure you could do better by combining a series of other patterns and end up with something more original. 

Simplicity 8234
Misse's Alice in Wonderland Cosplay Costume

Masters of Cosplay artistry have come up with some jaw dropping interpretations of Alice in Wonderland. A simple Google search can yield hundred upon hundreds of Lolita inspired attempts at Alice. It comes as no surprise that Simplicity would resort to stealing someone else's design given that there are so many out there to choose from. I'm sure this designer would be thrilled to find a knock off of their work nestled within Simpilcity's catalog. That's shady. It's not that hard to come up with your own Alice in Wonderland costume. I drew my costume interpretations for the entire cast when I was in high school. I'd share them on here...but maybe Simplicity would nick them from me too... Overall, it's a nice looking costume but their un-originality pisses me off too much to like it. 


I can't say I'm surprised to see them continue with Lolita/Cosplay costumery, however, I wish they had pushed the boundaries a little further. They seem too behind the times. Lolita and Cosplay have evolved far beyond these styles and I'd like to see something on trend. What are your thoughts?


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Cosplay by McCall's SENTINEL and RENEGADE

New Fantasy Costume Patterns

I have to say that I'm pumped to see some more girly costume patterns from McCall's. Don't get me wrong, I like that they cater to both sexes. We should have more men's costumes because they've been overlooked in the past, it's just that as a woman I like women's costumes and these are awesome.

Tunic, vest, hood and bracers

I am very interested in Fae fashion. I haven't had much time to look into its current trends or to find new artists and I'm really bummed about that, but it's made the release of this pattern just that much better. I recall Simplicity releasing at least two Fae patterns in the past (1293 and 1251) and I wasn't overly enthusiastic about them (with the exception of the one hoodie). There was something juvenile about their construction, they looked childish but I think they were supposed to appeal to preteens. As far as I can tell those costumes are now out of print and I think they were only available for a few months. Maybe it was the below average designs, or perhaps the needle felting appliqués put people off (why not just couch?), but they were over and done with fairly quickly. I haven't seen a real attempt at Fae since then and I think that Sentinel comes close enough to the ready-to-wear clothing that Fae enthusiasts crave. I love the vest on this with the oversized hood. It's fantastic and the highlight of this costume. I like the idea of having a contrasting band in the front with a decorative trim. It feels very whimsical and the construction looks good. I'm not crazy about the tunic, something about the sleeves looks off but I think it's great when paired with the vest. I'm definitely not into the bracers. This isn't the first time we've seen them in the Cosplay by McCall's collection and they never look right to me. Something about their shape is odd...I can't place it. Are they too long? Maybe you guys know what I mean? The McCall's company already has a much better bracer design in one of their other patterns, Butterick 5371, which I think would've look better with this.

Halter top, underbust corset and belt

This is another pattern designed in part by Anachronism in Action. It's similar to the earlier corset patterns I have featured on the blog, only this one is way more complex, hence it's advanced skill rating. I'm too afraid to tackle this myself. Perhaps the underbust, it doesn't bother me, but the halter harness thing is overwhelming. It looks awesome and I'm jealous of anyone who can pull it off. You're definitely paying for the quality and skill in this pattern, that's a good thing, it's worth the investment because it's not just some skimpy shitty basic corset pattern. My only complaint is that the front of the halter is not as nice as the back, it's boxy looking and it's missing something, it's also so long that it's suffocating the models chest. It looks as though it should rise up another two inches. You can see in the side view it's compressing her bust in an unflattering way, which would need to be worked around. It might just be because that model has a fuller bust, who knows! It's worth picking up this pattern but remember to muslin the shit out of this because fit issues are bound to happen.


I'm happy with these releases, I'm sure some of you are drooling over the back of that halter. I'd like to see more like this from McCall's. It's very encouraging. I should note there's also been a bunch of new Yaya Han designs but I'm really not a fan of her stuff and everything that comes out any more appear to be derivative of her previous patterns.

What do you guys think of these?


Friday, 12 August 2016

DIY Halloween Miniature Tombstone

Making Halloween Miniatures

Halloween has come early to many home decor and craft stores this year. The Michaels in my hometown has recently shelved their 2016 collection and I feel a tad underwhelmed by it. My hope is that perhaps there's still more items to come but what is available is largely rehashed from last year's product line, with maybe a few design tweaks here and there. In case you're wondering what's available there are a handful of clips that have surfaced on Youtube, so check them out!

Apparently this year Michaels is really smitten with black and gold decor. That's not exactly Halloween in my opinion. Many of the objects aren't successful on their own and would probably require you to buy at least one or more other decor items from the same theme. I prefer it when you can walk in and be like, "Yeah, this will totally go with my decor" without having to refashion your entire collection. Likewise, they also brought in a bunch of jewel toned autumn decor. Because nothing says autumn like the colour blue...? I suppose it would look good with all the dark themed Halloween ornaments but on their own they look really bizarre.

If you're anything like my old self you're probably a fan of the Lemax Spookytown collection and you greatly anticipate its new releases every year. I used to work at a Michaels, like a hundred years ago, and when I did I purchased one piece from the Spookytown collection. It was all I could afford as a seasonal worker and I deeply regret not purchasing more of them. You see, over the last ten years there has been a drastic decline in the quality of Lemax items. Somehow the scaling went fucking apeshit and now they have characters ranging in size from one to five inches. How in the hell? The paint jobs have also become steadily worse over time and the products went from primarily resin to a combination of resin and plastic. I don't understand where their priorities went. I think of all the elderly women who would frequent the store in search of new additions to their Lemax collection, and I can only imagine how pissed they were when they saw the differences in scale and quality. I haven't taken a good look at the Lemax Spookytown collection in probably six years. That's how bad they've become.

I recently purchased a cloche and a shadow box and I was really hoping to create some miniature Halloween scenes inside them. I figured, fuck it, I'll go buy the Lemax tombstone collection.

It's not bad, right? Well, no, but that's because this is the product photo. In person the tombstones don't look that great. They were way smaller than I anticipated. The site makes them look bigger but in reality they're only 4 cm tall (and that's the tallest, the majority of them are smaller than that). The product photo also features the best painted examples but in person they look god awful. The colours are not this nice, they're more pale gray and highlighter green, they look very flat. The green RIP on the center tombstone was smudged all over, the writing and cracks were all faint and not as discernible as in the photo. And the one just bugs me... It says "Dear" on it. Not just that but it's also written on an angle as though the stonemason fucked up lol. Dear. Dear what? My fiancé said I should buy it and put a "D" on the end of it so it'll at least say "Dead" but at $7 CAD what's the point? If I just have to paint them anyways I might as well make my own. So I did. And here's the tutorial!

• pen or pencil • cardboard • exacto knife • cutting mat
• wax paper • rolling pin • some water • air dry clay
• tooth pick • chisel paint brush • bristle paint brush • gesso
• acrylic paint • matte spray varnish

Step one: Forming the Stone

Start by sketching out your tombstone(s) on cardboard. Cut out this template using an exacto knife. Take a ball of clay and place it on top of some wax paper, roll it out with a rolling pin to 1/4" thickness. Place your template on top of the clay, using your exacto knife cut out around the edges. Lift the excess clay away and you have your tombstone. You may wish to create a beveled edge for your tombstone, you would achieve this by repeating the first steps and layering the clay on top. I would not recommend exceeding 1/2" thickness as it takes too long to dry.

Step Two: Adding Script and Texture

Contemporary tombstones are flat and shiny but we want the old fashioned, weathered ones! Using a stiff bristle paint brush, stipple along the tombstone's front and back. Take your chisel paint brush and dip it in a little water (not too much, blot excess water off on paper towel) and smooth out the stippling. Repeat this process until you've achieved your desired texture. Create cracks by using the tip of a tooth pick to gouge away at the clay. You can create script on your tombstone with the same method, by gently scraping the words into the clay. If you notice that the edges are rough, simply take your chisel paint brush and soften it with a little water, pulling away from the lettering. Once complete let dry.

Step Three: Adding a Foundation

We're not done sculpting yet! This tombstone needs a solid foundation so it can stand. Roll a ball of clay and place it on some wax paper. Squash this ball of clay down, then push the tombstone into it (brushing some water onto the fresh clay can create an adhesive to help things stick better). Next, carve away parts of the clay to create a dirt mound. You can use the bristle brush to create more texture but don't smooth it afterwards like in the last step, instead leave it raw, it will give it a more realistic texture. If you desire something more rock like, take your tooth pick and roll the flat side of it across the clay, creating uneven edges. Carve cracks in an irregular fashion to create an organic look. Grass is a hard thing to sculpt, even Lemax has difficulty accomplishing it. I recommend using the tooth pick and sketching lines into the clay in one, upward direction. Let dry completely.

Step Four: Painting

Start by painting one coat of gesso over your clay. Once dry, add a base coat in a dark color, it doesn't matter which, black or dark brown is acceptable. After that's dried, paint your tombstone in your desired colours. Try using a combination of green and brown to create moss, stippling with the stiff brush. You might be tempted to use just gray for you tombstone but I encourage you to brush in shades of blue or brown over top to create an aged look, then add highlights in an off white to the edges of the tombstone. Let dry, seal with a spray matte finish.

Some quick tips!

It's better to mix colours than use them out of the bottle, so try creating greens and browns rather than using premixed ones. Remember that nothing in life is one flat colour! For example, grass is various shades of green, rocks are various colours too. I achieved my rock colours by mixing gray, brown and blue. Use a fine brush for the little details. Try dry brushing, this can create texture. Do a last minute wash of water and a little dark brown paint over your project, then wipe with a lint free cloth; this will help age the piece. 


You'll probably see my completed terrarium sometime next month, after the wedding. I'm pleased with how my tombstone turned out. I may not have the pristine sharp edges that Lemax creates but my paint job is a thousand times better (no garish lime green grass for me!) and it looks more cohesive with my terrarium decor. I purchased a Lemax Grim Reaper, only because I didn't have time to make one. It's not bad but I'm going to repaint it so it looks nicer. I hope you find this tutorial helpful, please share your projects if you give it a try. :)


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