Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: A Year in Review

Looking back at blogging in 2014

Every morning I wake up and I scroll through the various new blog posts in my feeds. Today it seems everyone is talking about 2014... mostly in a negative way lol. I can understand why, 2014 was a really bad year for a lot of people and largely due to financial troubles. I still haven't found a real job, my man hasn't found a better job, and I often wonder (in fear) what the future holds. But bitching about it doesn't bring me any closer to a solution and it actually doesn't leave me feeling satisfied. So instead of griping about last year's downfalls, I'm going to review more positive and fun aspects of the previous year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What are you doing New Year's Eve?


Hot Fashions for New Year's

New Year's Eve is tomorrow! It's always such an exciting time. Whether you're looking to go out drinking, hosting a cocktail party for friends, or having a romantic night at home, it's great to get dressed up for the occasion. I used to go out with my friends all the time on New Year's, even though it was never anything more than just getting a little drunk and wearing awesome 90's clubwear. For me, New Year's has become synonymous with great fashion! If I were to hit the streets in style this year, here is what I'd wear!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Holiday Party Dresses

What to wear for the holidays

Everybody is knee deep in celebrations this time of year! So many family gatherings, big dinners, office parties; what's a girl to wear? You want to look your best for this holiday season, right? Well here are some great party dresses and accessories that I think you'll love!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Wishlist


Santa baby, give me everything!

Let's pretend there's a magical world where Santa really exists, or maybe a magical gift giving robot... I'd prefer the robot. What would I wish for? Beyond the obvious things, like financial security, good health and a nicer home. I mean frivolous materialistic things! For no other reason then because it's nice to fantasize lol. Christmas is nearing and my birthday is this Saturday. I'm not expecting gifts, I explicitly requested no gift giving. However, like most people, I still think about shopping at this time of year. I use to get great deals at boxing day sales and would usually buy something special to treat myself after the holidays were over. I guess I miss shopping, because the other day I dreamt that I was in a thrift store and bought some awesome goth clothing, including these adorable Gothic Lolita boots that sadly don't actually exist lol. It was probably one of the coolest dreams ever.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Baby, it's cold outside!


Winter fashion for the alternative girl

I'm sure many of you have struggled to find appropriate winter wear in alternative fashion styles. I've always wondered why there is such a bizarre lack of warm, winter clothing. There are rarely functional goth coats on the market, well, except for the seven or so Hell Bunny coats out there (pictured above) but there's got to be more variety than just that. Even while putting this post together I was hard pressed to find gloves, hats and scarves. Why is that? Well, I have a theory; I think the reason we see so little winter clothing in the goth and alternative scene is because the designers come from warmer climates. Many of the designers I've found are either from England or California, neither of which gets slammed with super cold weather and copious amounts of snow. It also costs more to produce high quality, functional winter clothing. Good warm coats and boots are not cheap. I had to spend $200 (and that's on the low end) for a pair of winter boots and they're barely surviving. Although the majority of alt shops lack winter clothing, there are still items that can be utilized to guard yourself from the bitter cold.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Simplicity 3618 - Costume Review



My Pirate Costume

Although I typically wouldn't review just a costume pattern, I do believe that this pattern has the potential to be adapted for other means. For example, the blouse and circle skirt are great fundamentals that can be altered for a variety of projects. I also wanted to review this pattern simply because it's Halloween related and who doesn't love Halloween?!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Happy Halloween... Again!



Photos from my Halloween Night

Obviously this is going to be picture heavy so I'll try to keep my descriptions short. I had a lot of fun last night and I was totally exhausted. The Halloween festivities continue on in my heart, my fiancé and I just watched an 80's vampire movie and I ate candy lol. I'm probably going to hang out in my sewing room a little more and continue to enjoy my decorations. I can't believe the glow sticks in my pumpkins are still going!! It's the like the spirit of Halloween is alive and well in my room. :)

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!


At Midnight Beneath the Witches' Tree
Who Dares Keep Halloween with me?


Of course I haven't forgotten that it's Halloween. There's only a few minutes left before the witching hour and Halloween will be over for another year. I intended to post more pictures earlier on but I had no idea how long Halloween would go on for and how much work I would put into it. I'm actually kind of glad it's almost over... yet I'm still staying up and hanging out in my fully decorated sewing room.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Men Try on Womens' Costumes



What is it really like to wear a sexy costume?

Normally I would not post a video at random and leave it at that, but this one deserves it. A few weeks ago I was bitching about sexy costumes. I joked that maybe men should wear them because it might put women off of wearing them. Thank god someone actually tried it. 

My favorite is the guy who said "pants can be fucking sexy", those were my exact words to my fiance when I was making my costume. 

Enjoy!



Friday, 24 October 2014

Frightful Fridays - Halloween Traditions



 Halloween traditions

Just as we eat big meals at Thanksgiving, or give presents to loved ones at Christmas, Halloween has its own special traditions. They vary per person. Some people celebrate time-honored traditions that have been passed down through the generations, other people who might be new to Halloween are developing their own traditions. I have a few of my own personal traditions which I will share with you, as well as some of the more common ones observed by most North Americans. 





Trick or Treat

Obviously one of the most common practices is North America on Halloween is to give out candy or go trick or treating. If you're luck enough to be a child you can go trick or treating, or in other words, go door to door collecting candy. Besides giving them a good stomach ache and a year's supply of candy, trick or treating plays an important role in a child's development. It helps build their confidence, strengthen their bond to the community and it stimulates their imagination. Even though I generally dislike children, I make a note of it to dress up my house and hand out candy. I do this for a handful of reasons, like how I want to keep the holiday going, but I also want kids to feel comfortable in our neighborhood. I'm not crazy about them screaming at the top of their lungs, littering on my lawn or getting in the way of our car when we're pulling out of our driveway. Let's face it, the kids here are growing more stupid by the second, but that's no reason to make them feel unwelcome in the neighborhood. I figure handing out candy and making Halloween a blast teaches them to respect me and lets them know that "hey, a person lives here, so stop fucking around!"

Something that isn't practiced as much as it was in my youth are the "rules" of trick or treating. Newspapers and local television stations would always have advertisements encouraging kids to stick together; not eat their candy until they get home and it's been inspected; walk on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the street; and lastly, to go trick or treating in groups or with a parent. You know what kids do now? They don't trick or treat at night any more, they start right after school and maybe go until sun down...that's weird. They also don't walk. Parents seem to be more crazy controlling and will drive them door to door, or drive alongside them. That makes no fucking sense. If you're going to drive alongside them, then get out of your fucking car and walk with them. People talk a lot of shit about kids eating unhealthy food this time of year, how about we criticize parents for being too god damn lazy! It's okay to eat candy, so long as you're active. So you know what parents? Get active. Set a good example.

Having mentioned that, it seems parents don't even want their kids to go out for Halloween anymore. I can only assume this is because the new generation of parents are a little whacky. I said that they drive their kids door to door on Halloween, well they'll also drive their kids to school even if it's just down the block. The school parking lot got so cramped and dysfunctional they had to hire a cop to show up every morning and direct traffic. It's so ridiculous that there's even a provincial day that encourages kids to WALK TO SCHOOL. I get that the internet has done more than bring us together, it's also encouraged mass hysteria with the multiple bogus urban legends that get circulated on Facebook. I mean, how many people actually believe that Justin Beiber has died for the umpteenth time? Answer: too many people.

It's sad that there actually people out there who believe the razor blade in the apple legend is true, when apparently there haven't been any such records in existence in any city. Parents live in fear of their own community and that's only going to fuck their children up even more so. I can only hope that the next generation of parents are much more laid back and realistic, and hopefully trick or treat will be here to stay.




Decorating

Obviously the second most common practice for Halloween is decorating the home. Not many people observe this practice in my city any more. In fact, out of 350 houses in my area perhaps 30 of them have some kind of Halloween decoration put out. I'm hoping that this number increases on the actual day of Halloween but it's unlikely. There has been a sharp decline in decorating for Halloween and for Christmas. This is in part because of the economy. The 1980's has been described as a consumer-driven decade in North America and I know now that my childhood Halloweens were amazing because of this mass-consumerism. Now it's nothing like the 80's, with thousands of people being laid off every year, there aren't many people who can afford to buy decorations or run them. Our hydro bills will be increasing to astronomical rates. Even the eco-friendly LED string lights will cost money to run. 

Aside from costs, I also think that people are becoming tired of Halloween. Maybe it's too much effort to dig out the Halloween decor when you know Christmas is only two months away. I found a poll the other day asking if people were going to wear costumes this year. Something like 20% said yes, 20% said they don't even celebrate the day, and 30% said no. The rest were undecided. Unfortunately that poll doesn't reveal whether or not people actively celebrate or decorate for Halloween, statistics that I would be interested in seeing.

For Halloween, I like to put up a lot of lights. I have a weird fetish for lights. I had so many novelty lights when I was a teenager, like disco balls, traffic lights and lava lamps. I sold and got rid of half of them but some are still lingering around at my parents house. For Halloween lights I have two full bins. TWO FULL BINS. That's a lot, and I've already gotten rid of some of them. I still have to purge a few dead sets (why don't stores sell replacement bulbs any more, like wtf?) and maybe replace a few if I ever find something nice enough. I also like to put out my pumpkin lights and vintage Halloween blow molds - kids seem to love them. This year my fiancé and I would like to decorate the front entryway as a sunken pirate ship but cost and time will determine whether or not we're successful. I have a few pirate decor items including a pirate skull that's eyes pop out lol. I'll post pictures of the actual decor on Halloween day. 




Pumpkin Carving

Obviously another very common practice. It's not Halloween without a Jack O'Lantern!!! Every year I get nostalgic and dive into one of these little round orbs. The smell is fantastic. I'm reminded of many fond childhood memories whenever I stick my hand into a pumpkin and grab those gross, slimy innards. My mom use to make roasted pumpkin seeds which I now do for my fiancé. With the ever-growing popularity of Pinterest, there are a million different ways you can carve or decorate your pumpkin, including painting and costuming a pumpkin. My favorite is Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Clock seen here. I'm not sure how many pumpkins we will be putting out this year or how they will be decorated. I think maybe I'll do one with a pirate ship on it and get all fancy. A great alternative to pumpkins is carving turnips and hanging them around the house. : )





Halloween Parties

Another tradition is to hold or attend a Halloween party. Halloween parties can just be a simple gathering between friends (in or out of costume) with Halloween themed activities, or it could be a community event. I attended a party at the local museum which gave out candy, played music and showed horror movies. That was rad. Some people throw Halloween costume balls, which is something I would love to experience! In recent years I've found that Halloween parties and dances are some of the most common ways to celebrate Halloween in countries that don't nationally observe the holiday, so if you happen to be in a country that doesn't celebrate Halloween, try throwing a Halloween party for you and your friends! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Choose a theme
- It could be an Edgar Allan Poe party, a pirate party, a murder mystery party, the options are endless! You don't even have to buy all your decorations online, choose a colour scheme and purchase balloons and streamers from local party suppliers, and check out all the amazing DIY crafts on Pinterest to see what you can make at home! Check out Martha Stewart's Paper Hang Ups they are simple and easy to make!

Activities
- There are plenty of scary movies, video and board games which you can play at your Halloween party. You could also share scary stories or pieces of Halloween literature with your friends. I attended a Halloween poetry contest, that was pretty cool and a great idea for a party activity. You could also run a costume contest giving awards to the best dressed, most scary or best handmade costumes. 




My Traditions

I have plenty of my own Halloween traditions. One of my newer traditions is making my own costume, as I have discussed in recent posts. I really like making my own costume because it provides me with a creative outlet and I have something special that no one else does. It's something of my own creation! I love it. When I'm not pouring my creative juices into my costume I'm working on making my own Halloween decorations. I love DIY crafts and there's an abundance of DIY Halloween projects online, but I usually just come up with my own. In high school I created a life sized Jack Skellington. He's lived in my parents shed ever since and this year they're finally throwing him out after he's had mice living inside him for ten odd years lol. One of my more common traditions is baking around Halloween. I've always made cupcakes for Halloween but this year I'm on a strict diet so I'll have to try making gluten free Halloween cookies. Depending on how they turn out I will be sharing the recipe on Halloween day!

My newest tradition is playing Puppeteer, a game for the PS3. My fiancé bought this game last fall and we played it while I was house sitting for my Grandmother in October. I adore this game! It's really very special. I'm a huge fan of Little Big Planet and Puppeteer bares similarities to LBP. It centers around the adventures of a headless puppet named Kutaro. Kutaro needs to get his head back as well as save the souls of all these other little puppets whose souls have been taken by the Moon Bear King. It's a platformer that plays out more like a theatrical performance as it features changes in set and various cut scenes. It's really a lot of fun, there's something magical about it just like Halloween, and better yet there's a Halloween world (see below). I already had the craving to play this game again a few weeks ago. It's very easy to play and can be completed in a few hours. It's so much fun and it really gets me in the mood for Halloween!







What are your Halloween traditions?

Kind regards,

Friday, 17 October 2014

Frightful Fridays - What to Wear



A Costume Suggestion for Halloween

Happy Frightful Friday! This wouldn't be a sewing blog unless I actually talked about sewing, right? Well today I'm going to share a very simple tutorial with you. This year I'm going to dress up for Halloween as a pirate, it's not my ideal choice but it's convenient so I'll do it. My fiancé also wants to be a pirate, so now I'm working on two costumes. As you can imagine that is a lot of work. I don't want to spend too much time working on costumes because I have other things to attend to. In the mad scramble to get my own costume complete, I came up with a quick and easy way to make my fiancé's costume.

The practice of making a costume from scratch isn't as popular as it once was. DIY use to be the norm when it came to Halloween costumes, but today people are more likely to purchase ready made costumes or assemble a costume from pieces that they find at second hand shops. Very few people make or sew their own costume, I think this is because of time constraints and costs. It's more convenient to buy a thirty dollar costume from Value Village than to spend hours sewing your own. Today, I'm going to show you how I made my fiancé's pirate costume, it's quick and easy and cost us under $11 to make. It can be adapted to other costume needs, perhaps a vampire or Mad Hatter costume. You can sew it for men, women and children. :)
I hope you enjoy it!



What you will need

To start, you will need the following:
  • A button down dress shirt
  • A meter and a half of wide lace, preferably 3" or more, I used 2 1/2" wide lace successfully
  • A sewing machine, unless you intend on sewing by hand
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Double folded bias tape in same colour as lace, preferably 1/2" - 1" in width
  • A scrap piece of broadcloth or a single sheet of felt, same colour as lace
  • Hook and eye OR a button snap OR velcro


Lace Cuffs

Step One

For the cuff  you will want to leave the button exposed so it can slip into the buttonhole. This is shown in the bottom of the above diagram. You will want to measure just shy of the button to the other end of the cuff. Don't worry that the lace covers the buttonhole, there will be an opening that allows you access to the buttonhole. Add two seam allowances to the measurement you've taken, then use the new measurement to cut two pieces of lace. 

Step Two

After you have cut your two pieces of lace, finish the seams (this is optional) using a serger or the zig-zag stitch on a standard sewing machine. Turn the seam allowance under to the wrong side of the lace, this will be placed down against the cuff so it is hidden from view.

Step Three

Pin the lace wrong side facing the right side of cuff, and as shown in the above diagram. Straight stitch using one of your longest stitches across the bottom of the lace and just above the top of the lace as shown in the diagram. This will secure the lace to the cuff. Make sure to cut off any loose threads. Repeat this process for the other cuff!




Ruffled Collar

Step One

In this tutorial you will essentially be making a ruffled choker. If your dress shirt is rather large, measure around the collar, if your dress shirt is fitted then you can measure the thickness of your neck. Add two inches to this measurement (this includes the seam allowances as well as additional material which you will fold under and into the bias tape). You will want to be able to breathe when wearing this so give it a test before cutting to see if it fits comfortably around your neck. Use this measurement to cut one piece from your double folded bias tape.

Step Two

With the double folded bias tape open, turn in a half an inch on each side and press. These are your edges and they will be hidden from view. Fold your bias tape closed again, and press. You will be sewing this shut after you complete the ruffle.

Step Three

To make the ruffled collar you will need to cut two to three (depending on preference) pieces of lace that are 10" in length. Finish edges (optional) and turn seam allowances under toward wrong side of lace, just as you completed in step one of Lace Cuffs tutorial.

Step Four

Diagram for Step Five
Run a straight stitch along the top of each piece. You will use this to gather the lace. Gather only slightly so the length is reduced to roughly five inches.

Step Five

Using broadcloth or felt, cut a shield like shape that is the same width as your gathered lace. This is the base piece of the ruffled collar. Depending on how many layers of lace you're using the overall length of this piece can vary, what you want is for the piece to taper off suddenly so it is hidden behind the lace. Practice first by placing your lace in layers and then marking the shape on your material. Serge or zig-zag the edge of the base piece if you desire.

Step Six

Sew your lace onto the base. Start with the bottom lace piece, then the middle and finally the top piece of lace, creating that lovely layered effect.

Step Seven

Center the ruffled panel onto the bias tape you cut earlier. Align it so the top of the ruffled panel is equal to the top of the bias tape. Stitch close to the edge of the bias tape, about an 1/8", straight across the ruffled panel.

Step Eight

To finish, sew a hook and eye closure, button snap, or velcro to the ends of the ruffled collar choker. This choker will sit underneath the collar, with the ruffles at the front opening.


Suggestions

It's very easy to wear this pirate dress shirt. Men can pair it with pants and a vest. You could easily buy a vest second hand and embellish it with gold trim and buttons. For girls, you could sew a circle skirt and tuck the shirt in at the waist, then wear a waist belt or cincher over top of it. You could also wear it loose with leggings and a sash around the hips. Pirate women were known for dressing as men, so pants are totally acceptable! Also, many pirates wore luxurious and ill fitting clothing that they stole from the wealthy, so if your dress shirt doesn't fit any more (like my fiancé's shirt) don't worry, it adds to the character! Pair this outfit with a hat and some booties and you're set for Halloween, yarrr! 

The best part of this tutorial is that you could easily remove the embellishments afterward. I'm salvaging the lace from my man's pirate costume for my future sewing projects. : ) I'll post pictures of both our costumes when they're complete! What are you wearing for Halloween?

Kind regards,

Frightful Fridays - What to Read




So first off, I'd like to apologize for yet another delay in an installation of my Frightful Fridays series. I can't help but notice it's turning into Terror Tuesdays... Given that the whole idea of this series is to finish on Halloween (a Friday) I will do my best to get back on schedule. This past weekend was a hectic one, it was our Canadian Thanksgiving, my fiance and I also went on vacation for two nights immediately after I worked a full shift on Saturday. To top it off I've been crazy sick. I had planned on writing the post and publishing it when I went up north to the trailer but sadly forgot that there's no internet there. Instead I went fishing, collected some fall foliage, got a little drunk and played video games, went hiking and enjoyed autumn and nature to the fullest extent. Now I'm back, so let's get this show on the road.

What to read for Halloween

For this installation of the Frightful Fridays series, I've selected a few short stories and novels for you to read for Halloween. Now, many of these are actually not Halloween themed, unlike the films and television specials from my previous post. Instead, these are classic horror stories which I think you will enjoy. I believe most of the short stories are available online. I've linked to those texts that I could find via educational and fan websites. I hope you enjoy!



Short Stories




Revelations in Black 
By Carl Jacobi

This is a short story about a gentleman who is attracted to a series of books handwritten by an alleged mad man. The books contain a three part story which is heavily laden with symbolism. As if possessed by some unforeseen force, the protagonist finds himself attempting to decode and unravel the mystery behind these texts. Are these books fact or fiction? What horrors lie in wait? Do vampires really exist?

Unfortunately, I don't have a link for this particular text. It can be found in Carl Jacobi's horror story anthology of the same name. Revelations in Black is the first story featured in that anthology. It's also featured in The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, a vampire anthology which I own. I was impressed with Jacobi's writing style and I would say it's worth getting a copy of either book.





The Fall of the House of Usher
By Edgar Allan Poe

When it comes to Halloween literature, a lot of people will recommend that you read Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and although I think it's a very good piece I prefer The Fall of the House of Usher. As usual, Poe has a knack for establishing mood and this short story is wrought with gloom and anxiety. 

The story follows an unnamed narrator who sets out to visit his ailing friend, Roderick Usher. As his friend descends into a kind of madness, the narrator attempts to lift his spirits but sadly it's to no avail. Usher is a gloomy character who is restless and anxious. His sister is on her death bed and as Usher well knows, he too will succumb to a similar fate. As the story progresses Usher's paranoia overwhelms him, he expresses to his friend (the narrator) that he feels his house is alive. Because this is a short story I won't indulge any further, but I think it's the perfect story for Halloween. It begins on a dark and gloomy autumn day, Usher lives in an apparently haunted and decrepit dwelling, there's death, malady and madness. It's just plain awesome. Check it out!





The October Game
By Ray Bradbury

I mentioned Ray Bradbury in a recent post, he wrote The Halloween Tree. He also wrote this delightfully grotesque short story called The October Game. Again, I don't want to give too much away so I'll give a brief description. The story is about a husband who is just a little bit disturbed. He's growing to seriously dislike his wife and child. He is seriously annoyed by the idea of participating in their Halloween party, so he decides to make his own fun... It's dark, creepy and perfect for Halloween. Read it here.




The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York
By Algernon Blackwood

I found this short story years ago when searching for old ghost tales. It's a work of fiction, but goodness what an interesting piece. I had never read anything by Blackwood before and now I'm smitten. This short story is about a legal secretary who travels to meet with a very creepy client. Much to his dissatisfaction he has to stay the night in a creepy old manor. Lots of weird stuff happens. It's both dark and funny, definitely give it a read.





The Masque of the Red Death
By Edgar Allan Poe

This is another great Poe tale. The story is obviously about the red death, a plague that gripped the nation and killed thousands of people. Prince Prospero has locked himself and his wealthy followers in an abbey, away from all the death and destruction that lingers beyond the abbey walls. To lighten the mood, Prospero throws a masquerade ball. He elaborately decorates several rooms for his guests to enjoy. The masquerade appears to go off without a hitch but unbeknownst to Prospero someone, or something, has crashed his party. What terrors await these party goers? Find out here.




Books



Dracula

By Bram Stoker

It's not Halloween without vampires and what better vampire literature to read than Bram Stoker's Dracula? A young English lawyer named Jonathon Harker is sent to close a real estate deal with Count Dracula of Transylvania. Harker travels to visit the count at his castle only to become imprisoned and accosted by female vampires. He later learns that Dracula too is a vampire, feeding off of blood and transforming into a bat. Harker manages to escape but to his dismay the horror only appears to follow him back home to England.

This is a great novel and popular amongst vampire and Goth enthusiasts. If you haven't yet read this book I strongly encourage you to do so.




Frankenstein
By Mary Shelley

This is another classic novel that is a must read! Mary Shelley's Frankenstein follows an aspiring scientist named Victor Frankenstein. Dissatisfied with conventional science, Victor experiments with reanimating life. His attempts are successful, but at what cost? What happens when man plays god? Victor demonstrates that man's desire to dissect and control nature can have negative consequences. I strongly recommend reading this book.




Conclusion

There are many great stories and novels, too many to list! I hope that you find one of these pieces to your liking. If you have any good reading suggestions I'd be happy to hear them!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Frightful Fridays - What to Watch




The countdown is on! It's October and Halloween is quickly approaching. I'm so stoked! I intend on writing a Halloween related post every Friday to put you in the spirit for my all time favorite holiday. You might be confused because I'm posting it today; my plans for last Friday were unexpectedly changed. I had to help someone out in need, it's a long story so I'll spare you the details. So yes, this post is dated from last Friday but I posted it today. Let's just pretend it's Friday, it's sounds nicer anyways.

Halloween Films and Specials

For this Frightful Friday, I've compiled a list of Halloween film and television specials. These films, made for TV specials and shows are what I like to watch every year, they help me to get into the Halloween spirit. I've watched a lot of Halloween specials but not all of them will make this list, only the ones that I feel are worth watching. I hope that you're able to check some of these out! I know a few of them are on Youtube and other online video streaming websites.



Films



Hocus Pocus

It wouldn't be Halloween if I didn't watch this movie. Hocus Pocus is a Disney film from 1993 and it rocks. Most kids from my generation remember watching this movie on television. It was bad ass. Sadly, it's rarely shown on television any more. Some specialty film channels may have picked it up and I think that the Family channel (a Disney channel) might have shown this movie last year - for what could be the first time in twenty years. My point is, is that this film just doesn't get the recognition it deserves. It's a great movie and here's why:

So to give you a rough summary, the film is about a young teenage boy named Max who moves up north to Salem, Massachusetts. Everyone there is crazy about Halloween except for him. He's just pissed off because he has to live in a new town and leave all of his friends behind in California. On Halloween night, Max acts like a total dick and tries to impress this girl he has a crush on by lighting the "black flame candle". The candle is enchanted and is said to have the ability to resurrect the three most notorious witches in Salem's history; the Sanderson Sisters. Of course it works and the witches are brought back to life. They wreak havoc upon the city, looking for children to eat in order to be eternally beautiful and young. If they fail to do so by sunrise the next morning they will be turned into dust and their souls returned to hell. Thus Max, his crush and his little sister must work together to stop the witches from achieving their goal.

This film has magic, a talking cat, a curse, a zombie, trick-or-treating and Bette Midler. Enough said. It oozes Halloween spirit. If you haven't seen it already, get a copy and check it out!






The Nightmare Before Christmas

I'm not going to get into details here, this is one of the most well known films within the Gothic community. If you haven't heard of TNBC then it's about time you check it out. It is the quintessential Halloween film. It's also the quintessential Christmas film... it just depends on when you watch it. The plot is simple; the Pumpkin King, Jack, is bored with his life and his career. He discovers Christmas and wants it for himself so he endeavors to become Santa Claus. The plot is a little lack luster because it's a musical adaptation of a short story written by Tim Burton. The music was composed by Danny Elfman and therefore kicks ass. It's a good film, I love it because I grew up with it. It's pure nostalgia. I've watched it so many times that I know it by heart, which has taken the magic out of it. If I watch it now, I'll turn it off when he gets to Christmas Town because I think Jack's adoration for Christmas really blows. Who wants to see someone as cool as Jack Skellington reject the ghastly world of Halloween for the touchy feely bullshit of Christmas? I really wish Burton had taken the story in another direction, but none the less it's a satisfying film.






Sleepy Hollow

This is another film that I've over-watched lol. This movie was directed by Tim Burton. It's an adaptation of Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It's a horror film, of course, and it centers around a recent slew of attacks in Sleepy Hollow. All of these people are turning up decapitated but their heads are missing. Ichabod Crane (played by Johnny Depp) is a police officer who has a knack for forensics. He is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate these morbid crimes. This film has suspense, horror, witchcraft and hot costumes. It's not as scary as it was when I saw it the first time (I was much younger back then) but it's a great film for this time of year. It really has such a phenomenal atmosphere, especially because it's always foggy. It looks cold, damp and forlorn. I love Christina Ricci in this film, she was still very young at the time this film was made. She just has this beautiful, porcelain cherub-like face. With her hair dyed blonde, she looks even more haunting than she did in her Wednesday Addams role. This is definitely worth watching on a dark and stormy day.






Universal Monsters

I know that a lot of people are put off by black and white movies but if you have a true appreciation for film you have to see the Universal Monster films. These movies are essential, especially for the horror fanatic. Despite their age, they have remained timeless in the hearts of millions. My personal favorites are Dracula and Frankenstein. Obviously, like many film adaptations of novels, they aren't true to their origins. There are marked differences between the books and films but it doesn't bother me. Dracula is cool, the sets are awe-inspiring and the atmosphere is so intense you feel like you're immersed in the film. Likewise, Frankenstein also has a lot of depth and emotion; you really feel sorry for Frankenstein's creature (even though he never talks as he does in the book, this isn't explored until the Bride of Frankenstein, and he still isn't as articulate or intelligent). The best way to watch these films is when it's nice and dark out (maybe a bit stormy).


Honorable Mentions

These are films that I recommend for this time of year but are not necessarily Halloween themed. Most of which are just films that have horrific or supernatural qualities to them.

Ghousbusters I and II The Evil Dead Trilogy
ParaNorman Frankenweenie
Beetlejuice The Frighteners
The Craft Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
The Addams Family Casper
Nosferatu (1922) Night of the Living Dead (1968)




Specials




The Halloween Tree

This is a really cool special that I remember seeing on TV way back in the early 1990's. The Halloween Tree is an animated film adaptation of Ray Bradbury's novel of the same name. I've read the book and watched the film and they're pretty much the same. The book is about eight boys who are fighting for their friend's life, but the movie cuts the number down to four friends and one of them is a girl. It added a nice balance to put Jenny in, especially because she is such a ballsy character. 

The plot is basically about a kid named Pipkin whose appendix is going to burst on Halloween night. His group of friends are worried about his well being, so they strike up a deal with this fruity soul collector (voiced by Leonard Nimoy - awesome!) to save Pipkin from dying. They have to travel into the past in order to understand the "true meaning" of Halloween. If they successfully do this before Halloween is over then they will rescue Pipkin. It's wrought with historical inaccuracies and misconceptions, but it's one of the only films I've seen that actually tries to explore the origins of Halloween. It doesn't have the greatest dialogue which is disappointing given Ray Bradbury's renowned talent with words. I mean, he narrated this special, you would think he would have read the script and seen how terrible it was. When my fiance watched this, he couldn't help but notice that every other minute the kids were saying "oh my gosh". Seriously, if you watch it now you will notice it like a sore thumb. I get it, you don't want them saying "holy shit" or "what the hell?" but there must be other phrases you could use in place of "oh my gosh". If you can overlook its flaws, you'll find a childhood treasure that's both dark and whimsical.





Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask

The Haunted Mask is a made for TV hour long special based on R.L. Stine's children's novella of the same name. If you find it on Netflix for some reason it's listed under the 5th season of the Goosebumps TV series. I loved watching this as a kid. Carly Beth, the protagonist, is this obnoxious pussy kid who is afraid of everything. She hopes to get even with her bullies, Steve and Chuck, by buying the scariest Halloween costume she can find. Unbeknownst to her she ends up finding one that holds an evil curse, a costume that overtakes her and turns her into someone she's not! I'm not going to give anything away but the concept is awesome. They made a Haunted Mask II to follow this special, it involves the same characters and essentially the same story, only this time it focuses on Steve.

These specials are sort of lame but still totally worth watching. I recommend watching the Goosebumps TV series around Halloween, regardless of what episode it is. I strongly recommend you watch the Attack of the Jack O'Lanterns episode - hopefully the unedited version. It's a great Halloween episode! Goosebumps is an awesome horror series for kids, so if you have children definitely watch this with them.





Are you afraid of the dark?: The Tale of the Twisted Claw

You may already be familiar with the twisted claw story. You've probably seen it used in one of The Simpson's Treehouse of Terror episodes. It's where someone gets the foot of some animal and it grants wishes, and every wish inevitably turns out wrong. This episode from the Are you Afraid of the Dark series centers on two boys who are best friends. They go around on devil's night fucking shit up and then they piss off the wrong lady. On Halloween, the woman gives them a "treat" when they stop by her house, and surprise - it's a twisted claw! This is my all time favorite episode from AYOTD and I strongly recommend you see it. I recommend all of the AYOTD episodes from the first generation cast (before they revived it in the late 90's and barfed all over it). A few suggestions are Laughing in the Dark, Tale of the Midnight Ride, The Prom Queen and The Tale of Old Man Corcoran. There are just too many awesome episodes in this series to list! If you haven't seen AYOTD before, there really is no better time than Halloween to give it a try.





Under Wraps

I realize most of what I'm showing here is children's stuff but honestly I think it's some of the best entertainment out there. It's not hampered down with bullshit, like slutty teenage girls and their idiotic ways or other redundant slasher film tropes. Under Wraps is a made for TV gem that I found only a few years ago. I'm disappointed I missed out on this when I was a kid because it kicks ass. Even as an adult I love this film! The story is about three friends who discover a resurrected mummy in a neighbor's basement. They have to help rescue him from their neighbor, who is a seriously bad guy. The mummy befriends the children and does a host of hilarious stuff. It's just a cute geeky movie that caters to the child inside. Who wouldn't want a mummy as a friend?


Honorable Mentions

This list has been compiled because there are too many made for TV movies and TV specials to list!

The Simpsons - Treehouse of HorrorMy So-Called Life Halloween Episode
Garfield's Halloween AdventureThe Halloweentown Films
The Real Ghostbusters - ShowBeetlejuice - Show
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownTales from the Crypt Keeper - Show/Cartoon
The Addams Family - Show (1964)Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow



Conclusion

There are just too many specials out there to list here, so I only provided ones that I know and are the most enjoyable to me. I'd love to hear any suggestions you have! What films, made for TV specials or series episodes do your recommend for Halloween?

Kind regards





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Photos are largely stock, page divider is not for redistribution or personal use without credit.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Are you short waisted?



Trying to dress alternative with a short waist.

Do you struggle with your body image? Have you ever lamented the fact that you're pear shaped, or square shaped, or apple? Well, imagine suddenly finding out that your waist length isn't "normal" either! What a fucking nightmare... Most of us have issues with our boobs, bottoms or tummies being out of proportion. Usually it's a problem with how wide we are but there's never much talk about lengthwise proportions, like how long our legs or torsos are. I never read about any of this stuff in my fashion courses, then again we studied history not tailoring. 

What does it mean to be short waisted? It means that your waist is shorter than the average measurement (or rather the industry standard, because I don't believe in "normal" or "average" measurements). If you are short waisted your rib cage sits closer to your hip bones, you usually have a thicker waistline and your legs are probably very long compared to most people. If you're the exact opposite of all of that then you might be long waisted.  

How do I know that I'm short waisted? I guess I don't really. I've tried three different ways of measuring my waist length and comparing it to average ratios, two of those three tests reveal I'm "balanced" or "normal". The other, which was nearly impossible to complete, made it seem that I was short waisted. Perhaps my waist is balanced and proportionate (?) but I've always felt that I must be short waisted. When I sew clothing every pattern I use has about an inch of extra fabric sitting below my waistline. I usually have to subtract an inch or so when making a muslin, if I don't the garment will be very uncomfortable. Strangely, it's not as bad when I buy ready to wear clothing. When I buy RTW clothing the waistline seems to hit me in the right place, yet the skirts I buy are always horrendously short! Maybe my waist is proportionate but not as long as other proportionate sizes? Or maybe my legs are just so freaking long they make me look short waisted even if my measurements indicate otherwise. 

Because of my unusual proportions, I tend to not look as awesome with garments that hit at my natural waistline. If you're short waisted you'll suffer from the same problem. Anything that hits at your natural waistline will make your torso appear even shorter. This is why most stylists will recommend you wear A-line dresses, empire waist dresses, shirts that feature decorative necklines or design elements at the bust, medium length shirts (untucked) and hip hugging low rise pants. Apparently most self proclaimed stylists believe the solution to dressing a short waisted figure is to drown them in clothing. If you peruse the various short waisted Pinterest boards you'll become aware of this fashion trend. I personally don't see why a short waisted woman should hide herself under a cape and loose fitting dress (unless you're into Mori Kei). There must be figure flattering clothing for short waisted women, too! Right?

What to wear for the short waisted gal

If you're into alternative, Goth or Lolita fashion AND you're short waisted, then you're probably painfully aware of how limited your clothing options are. This is actually true for most any style. If you wander over to Forever 21 you'll find 75% of their dresses cut at the natural waistline - a big no-no for short waisted ladies. I feel it's even worse for alternative fashion because of the pervading styles. For example, retro clothing has been crazy popular for years now. We've seen tons of 1950's vintage reproductions from brands like Sourpuss and Hell Bunny. What's the one defining element that comes to mind when you think of retro 50's dresses? That itty bitty waist that sits atop a full skirt. The pinched waistline of a rockabilly dress will likely not flatter a short waisted figure. Lolita suffers from the same problem. Almost all of the Lolita dresses out there cut at the waistline. What's a girl to do? Well, I've compiled the very few options we have, so at least you can get inspired. 



If you aren't afraid to flaunt your curves then you should look for dresses that hug your body. I've selected two bodycon dresses to show you, both feature bold prints. A bold print can help elongate the appearance of the torso, this is because the visual elements are dispersed throughout the dress rather than concentrated in one area (like the waistline). The idea here is that we're guiding the eye away from the waistline, sort of like if you were to wear a dress with vertical stripes. The next three dresses all feature decorative seams beneath the bustline. The only exception is the gray Sourpuss dress, which has a seam at the waistline too; I included it because it's made of a slinky jersey material and the skirt flares out from the hips, not from the waist. The two Sourpuss dresses have an A-line shape. A-line dresses and skirts are recommended because they flare outward from the hips, creating the impression of an elongated torso. The final dress by Steady is not an A-line, however, it still creates an elongated appearance because it's only design element is situated at the bustline. If you wore a waist belt with this dress you would ruin the illusion of length. Is this starting to make sense?

Disturbia Bunnies Bodycon Dress
Killstar Ouija Dress
Sourpuss One-Eyed Kitty Rosie Dress
Sourpuss Gray Polka Dot Vivienne Dress
Steady Polka Dot Diva Dress in Red




Not everybody is down with skin tight dresses, which is why I've included a few more alternative and Goth styles. The dress pictured on the left is a good dress for short waisted girls because it has a large belt that sits at the hips, this draws the eye downward and away from the natural waistline. The photo on the right depicts a similar instance, where the bodice ends at the hip line and flares out with an embellished circle skirt. Both silhouettes are simple and help to elongate the torso.

Hearts and Roses Red Tartan Zipper Dress - I own the same dress by Mercy
Hell Bunny Harper Mini Dress in Black



Now, from what I've read most stylists don't mention long skirts or dresses. I guess because they assume you have super long legs it will only make you look worse (like a girl swimming in a sea of skirt). In my opinion, as long as a full length skirt starts at the hips and is a darker colour, you should be fine. I recommend trying dresses that feature a basque (v-shaped) waist. I believe the point of the v-shaped waist helps draw the eye downward, giving the impression of length. Of course the basque waist should end around the hips and not at the natural waistline (as shown in the photos above). The reason that I recommend wearing a darker coloured skirt is because darker shades tend to shrink the appearance of mass whereas lighter, brighter colours enhance mass. This is why so many women are fond of little black dresses.

Sinister Elgatine Lace and Velvet Dress
Sinister Chandra Satin and Velvet Dress



If you are a short waisted Lolita then your shopping experiences must be pretty distressing. Just Googling "Lolita Dress" will yield thousands of puffy Lolita frocks that cut at the waist. Although it will take some digging, there are some options available to you. Look for A-line shaped dresses like these four dresses photographed above. Look for dresses that feature vertical seams (like the burgundy and blue dresses) as this helps guide the eye downward. Also look for dresses that feature a drop waist (like the black dress in the bottom right corner). If you aren't able to find dresses that match these descriptions you could pair a Lolita skirt with a medium length blouse (as shown in the top left photograph) or hip length jacket (middle photograph).

Image sources vary.

Conclusion

Remember to look for A-line dresses or skirts, bold prints, vertical seams or design elements, and drop waists. What I failed to mention is that most stylists suggest dresses and skirts that sit above or at the knee, but as I discussed with the basque waist dresses I think it's achievable with the right colour and cut. Avoid anything that breaks up the silhouette and exacerbates your short waistline! Of course these are only guidelines. You can wear whatever you want but if you're like me and you're becoming increasingly bored or unhappy with your silhouette, then you might want to give these suggestions a try!

Kind regards,





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Images are stock product stock photo. Illustration is mine and is not for personal use or redistribution.
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