Monday, 29 February 2016

Happy Leap Day!

Or is it a second Halloween?

It comes around every four years and it's my uncle's birthday (which makes him younger than me! but not really). I've always been interested in Leap Day because I think it's weird, it's a day that shows up like magic. It only exists so we can adjust the Gregorian calendar to match the cycles of nature, but that's about it. We don't do anything special to mark the occasion and I think that's a bummer. We're overlooking some prime holiday time! Think about it, it's another excuse to eat poorly and have fun. Why isn't Leap Day a big deal?

I remember when I was little, I had watched an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? where story teller, Betty Ann, tells a scary story inspired by the folklore of Leap Day. Well, more specifically it was about a full moon on Leap Year, probably because the last full moon on Leap Day took place in the 70's and not the 90's when AYOTD was being filmed. Regardless, the characters were explaining that a full moon on Leap Day held some seriously bad juju. It's a time when the veil between the spirit world and the world of the living is at it's thinnest and spirits are free to roam the earth seeking the souls of the living as their victims. Are you thinking of Halloween or Day of the Dead? Because I was. This was only strengthened by the fact that the story teller greets the circle garbed in a black robe, donning a paper sugar skull mask. You can imagine my surprise! A day like Halloween in February? It's so cool and scary! How could I not know about this?!

It's only with age, wisdom and of course the internet that one becomes painfully aware of the truth. There is no folklore that I could find in regards to a full moon on Leap day. This is probably because it happens so rarely. The last one took place in 1972, the next one will occur in 2048. Any superstitions children would create regarding the day would be lost throughout the generations; it's just too big of a gap for anyone to give a shit. Perhaps that was the script writer's intention all along. Maybe they didn't want to choose a date that was possible for kids because it'd be "too scary". But nothing on AYOTD was that scary. As far as weird folkloric Leap Day superstitions go, all that I could find was that women were encouraged to propose during this time, Greeks felt it was a bad year to marry, and crops could suffer. Woot. Real cool, huh? Well I don't think so. I think Leap Day should become the next Halloween. It would give us something to look forward to, instead of just a random day that pops up every four years only to remind us that we're getting older.

What do you think of Leap Day?


Thursday, 25 February 2016

First Impressions of Cosplay by McCall's Patterns

Trenched, Cloak X & Flight

Wait, hold up, did I not just blog about this? Well that's before I received a set of the patterns for myself. I was offered these as a marketing promo but I didn't want to mention it in the event that it fell through. I received them quite promptly and I have to say that I am blown away by the packaging on the new McCall's Cosplay patterns. The envelopes feature high quality printed images on card stock. They measure approx. 7 ¾" x 10" which makes them a fair bit larger than your standard sewing pattern envelope. There's a lot more information available on these envelopes, too. On the back flap of the envelope there are diagrams and images of the completed garment. On the underside of the flap there are helpful tips, like how to sew synthetic leather and cut faux fur. On the outside of the envelope there's the size chart, complete with suggested materials and notions. Inside you still get your large folded sheets of pattern paper, this time in white which makes it easier to read (or at least in my opinion it does). The instruction manuals are also slightly larger, they have a little more detail to them and are printed on a much higher quality paper. Overall, I'm very impressed with the quality of the patterns, you get a lot of bang for your buck. They cost the same as your typical costume patterns but you get something that will store well and hold up for continued use. In a way, they're kind of like collectibles.

I've read over the instruction manuals and I appreciate that they made the effort to provide a lot of detailed diagrams. Each pattern is categorized as advanced or intermediate. Surprisingly, Trenched (M2014) is the only advanced pattern. I suppose this is because it requires 8 meters of synthetic leather and that can be tricky stuff to work with. That being said though, just from reading the booklet I felt overwhelmed by Flight (M2015). You've probably been curious as to how the whole thing fits together. There's a harness that holds up a hinged wooden foundation that the wings are wired into, then the wings are covered in material. I think it would be cool to see this completed, but out of all the patterns this one requires the most notions and it has a long list of instructions accompanying it. I don't see it as being an easy weekend project, it's for someone who is really into perfecting their costume. I think the harness/foundation could be tweaked to look different, as it stands I'm not hot on how the wings connect, I think it requires a more seamless integration into the harness. Cloak X (M2016) is the pattern I hope to tackle very soon. It looks to be the easiest, it's skill level is "intermediate" but I could see advanced beginners accomplishing this one. I'm using it for my man's costume, he said he'd be cool with going as a viking for Halloween this year. Two years ago we purchased a battle axe prop in a Halloween clearance sale and I think it would look bitching with a viking costume. Hey, it's not historically accurate but he'll look sexy as hell!

These are really cool designs but I should warn that these projects can be costly. The Cloak X pattern is an unlined cloak, so there's no need to buy additional lining fabric, overall I could see it costing between $80-$100 depending on what you're using. Trenched will cost a fair bit of money, especially if you're using synthetic leather, although I could see someone using coating wool and that could be more cost effective. As for Flight, it depends on what you have already. I don't think the foam underlay would cost that much money, however, all the little hinges, drill bits, and tools could cost you if you don't already own them. I would say each project could possibly cost upwards of $100. You could find ways around this by using cheaper alternative materials, buying hardware from rehab stores, that kind of thing. 

These patterns give you good value in terms of quality. They're well printed and designed, and they offer more than your standard costume patterns. Overall, I'm really impressed and I look forward to seeing what else McCall's comes up with. The battle between McCall's and Simplicity's Cosplay continues, I'll be posting about the new Simplicity patterns shortly. Who will win?! I don't know! I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Cosplay by McCall's

New Collection 2016

I know I said that posting about Cosplay sort of ruined my blogging statistics but I'm trying to embrace it. I still firmly believe that there are some McCall's costume designs that can be adapted to suit basic ready to wear needs in both the Alt and Goth scenes. Today's interesting news is that McCall's has launched a few Cosplay patterns of their very own. Now I bet you're wondering, "what's the difference here? Aren't they all McCall's patterns?" Yes and no. A lot of the patterns I had discussed in the past are McCall's patterns but they're from other designers. For example, Butterick sells Designs by Gertie. Other examples of this are Arkivestry, Jessica McClintock and Yaya Han. The majority of McCall's Brand designs are the historical costumes and of course their various garment patterns. So why am I talking about this? I think that the McCall's Brand has made a major breakthrough with creating their own Cosplay patterns, rather than contracting other designers to make them. It also means they're no longer appropriating their basic costume line and slapping the category "Cosplay" onto it - something that I noted when they launched their Cosplay website. This is indicative to me that they're taking Cosplay more seriously instead of half-assedly trying to market standard costume patterns to Cosplay enthusiasts.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Gothic Green Thumb: Growing Dahlias

Growing and keeping dahlias in your garden

It's mid-February and the majority of us are at home avoiding snow. I'm sure the last thing on your mind is gardening, but this is the month when many green thumbs begin to grow their seedlings indoors, in preparation for the spring. I'm no different as I am preparing to plant two of the dahlias I winterized last fall. This is earlier than usual, but the forecasts indicates we'll likely have an early spring and I'd like to get a head start (I usually plant them in the beginning of March).

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

My Bloody Valentine

You may choose to celebrate this Valentine's Day with your loved one, or perhaps you're going to spend the day indulging yourself while looking fabulous! Regardless, I'm sure you'll share my enthusiasm for my love-themed finds. I've been falling hard for this rockabilly inspired Sugarbaby dress from Hearts & Roses. It has such a clean and flattering construction. I think it'll appeal to those of us who like to look sexy but polished. It has a slight v-neck, not too low, and the skirt cuts just below the knee. Pair it with these adorable peek-a-boo heart creepers, which could look very sharp with sheer black stockings. For my heartfelt accessories I've chosen these lovely heart shaped sunglasses from Gasoline Glamour, matched with a pair of diamante heart shaped stud earrings, and this boss anatomical heart cross body bag. For makeup, nothing says romance better than a sparkly shade of red from Sugarpill. Rock this awesome glittery eyeshadow with a sultry black lip stain, like Raven by Manic Panic.

Dress - Sugarbaby from Hearts & Roses London
Shoes - Creeper 108 from Demonia
Sunglasses - Heart of Glass, Red Heart Love Machine Sunglasses by Gasoline Glamour
Earrings - Diamante Red Heart Studs from Claire's Accessories
Bag - Realistic Human Heart Cross Body Bag from Dotoly
Eyeshadow - Asylum Loose Eyeshadow by Sugarpill Cosmetics
Lipstick - Raven Cross Gloss by Manic Panic

What are your plans for V-day?


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