Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Projects!

 First of all, my niece Eloise asked for a stuffed Bell. (her cat) So I found a pattern, and, through lots of trial and error, came up with a cat that looked like her.

She's a little awkward looking, but Eloise didn't care.

Next, my first attempt at a corset for someone other than myself:

I feel I did pretty good.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


so, I recently introduced Shannon to Digimon, and with her current obsession with pets, Gatomon is her favorite. I happened to locate a pattern for a crochet one, and made it for her for Christmas.

The pattern is here: http://milayou.deviantart.com/art/Gatomon-Plushie-288628972

I made a few modifications.  first, she's made with super bulky yarn and an 8mm hook, cuz I wanted her to be huge.  I'm not unhappy with how that worked, but I don't think I'll do it again because of the size of the gaps between the stitches.

eyes are cut out of felt, which took some time to get right. They are very important to make sure she looks right.  And I know she should have whiskers, but nothing I could do could make them look good, so I gave up.

The biggest change is the shape of her nose and chin.  I crocheted a circle for her nose-
             6 sc in a magic circle
             6 sc around
             inc 6 times (12 sts)
            12 sc around
            *inc, sc* rpt around (18)
sewed that on with the nose attached, and stuffed lightly before sewing closed.  That left almost no chin shape though, so I made another triangular piece:
           ch 2
           sc twice in the second chain from hook, turn (2)
         ch 1, inc in both sts, turn (4)
         ch 1, inc, sc, sc, inc, turn (6)
         ch 1, inc, sc, sc, sc, sc, inc (8)
         finish off
               (I'm pretty sure I only went to 8. I didn't take notes and I can't remember.  If this looks too small, just add another row following the same pattern, inc on first and last st.  I was making this up as I went along anyways.  There's probably an easier way to shape her face, this is just what I did.)

I sewed this on where her chin would be.  it just added a little more shape, so that she didn't have a sunken in chin.

the pink in the ears is pink felt glued to a stiffer white felt and hot glued to the ears to make them stand up.

the claws are just cones of black felt sewn on.  I tried to crochet something, I normally hate to use felt for details, but I just couldn't make anything that looked good.

her tail ring is a tube 10 sts around and three rows tall, with a row of sts done through the front loops of the top and bottom round, and then curled outward slightly and stitched down to make the raised edge.  It's just stitched to the tail.  I also added another repeat of the purple and white rows to the tail, just cuz I wanted it a little longer.

There she is.  I think Shannon will be excited.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shut up, I'm hilarious.

AHAHAHAHAHaHaaaaaa.... I'm so clever.

I should be ashamed of myself.

Anyways, the point of my ultra lame reference making is: I rescued the 5th corset!  I'm so glad!  I really didn't want that one to fail since the image of a brown leather underbust with swing hooks is what started me on my steampunk and corset making path.

Here it is:
yeah, I know the plaid pajama pants kinda ruin the effect.  oh well.  It's after midnight and I didn't care enough to change.
Here's an upclose of the fabric so you can see the pattern:

I'm very fond of it.  and now I have a brown corset with cliche swing hook closures.  I don't care if every steampunk corset uses swing hooks, I think they look awesome.

I managed to rescue the front panels from the original corset, although I did have to add a small strip to the edge to have enough fabric for boning channels.  And I saved about half of the back panels with the grommets in them.  I just barely managed to scrape together enough fabric for the rest of it.  I had to redo panels 2, 3, and 4 to correct the fit issue.  I had to resize most of the bones, but that wasn't a big deal.  I found it was nice to have the front and back closures already done as I was assembling it so I could actually try it on and know it was going to fit before it was finished.  I had to use commercial bias tape, since there was barely any scraps of the fabric left, and on the tops of the front panels it's actually only glued down because the bones in front go up too high for me to sew it down.

However, the liner looks great, the inside is very pretty.  My best work yet, considering it's a salvaged failure.


Friday, November 8, 2013

A New Corset, a Failure and a Lesson

So. I critically failed on my 5th corset.  It was incredibly demoralizing.  I had bought those cool swing hooks and special predrilled bones to mount them in that I had to get from England, and I was using the cool vinyl fabric that looked like tooled leather. I was figuring out how to add shoulder straps for that underbust with straps look that I love.  And I failed so hard.  In a few different ways.

In case you're wondering, there are no pictures of the failure.  I'm still hoping to salvage it so the hardware doesn't go to waste.

So.  Firstly, the shoulder straps.  The shape was utterly and abysmally wrong, I don't even know how to describe how they were wrong.  they were too long so they didn't rest on my shoulders.  The arm hole was too small so the edges cut in to both the front and back of my arm.  They were just so, so wrong.  Too wrong for me to fix.  They weren't a fixable problem, they were a cut-those-fuckers-off-and-start-from-scratch problem.  So that was bad enough, because the shape of the corset around my arms was cut around those, so the boning is too long in places to cut them off.  However, all this could be fixed with some time and effort.  Trim the fabric, trim the bones, resew hems, and so on.  There is however, a bigger problem.

I trimmed down the pattern I used.

Now, I had mentioned the wide hips problem of the previous two more recent corsets.  Here's the thing I have come to understand: That wasn't caused by the pattern being too wide in the hips.  I know, weird, right?  I have discovered however that the real problem is the waist.  You see, I didn't just cut down the hips, I trimmed the waist a bit more just for fun.  I thought, hey, my waist is squishy, let's see if we can reduce by more than two inches!

Spoiler Alert: I can't.

And the result of having a waist that I can't lace tight enough is a hips and ribs section that don't fit.  The fit of this failed corset was a tight cord around my waist and a hip and rib section that didn't even touch my body.  my torso felt like a clapper in a bell.  Now, if I got in to waist training and tight lacing I could probably train my waist to fit this corset, but I'm not going to do that.  Corsets are fun, occasional wear for me, not 23 hours a day never take it off deform my body wear.

The moral of the story is, there is a point at which I cannot squish my waist anymore, and I must respect that point or my corsets will not fit.

So, after learning this lesson, and angrily throwing the corset in a corner (I must salvage that hardware, I'm not letting it go to waste.  I'm just too angry to look at it now.)  I retraced my pattern, left some of the hip width, and smoothed out that waist curve a bit more reasonably.  And this story has a happy ending.  The result was this:

My 6th corset.
Oh. My. God.

I realize this doesn't look much different from my other corset pictures, but that's because you can't feel the difference.  This sucker molds so beautifully to my shape with a PERFECT waist shape.  This is a single layer corset, which was a new experience for me.  I splurged on some real coutil, professional corset maker's fabric.  Since it was just gonna be a single layer I wanted to use the strong, good stuff. The seams were sewn to the outside, seam allowances on the outside sewn down and used as boning channels, with satin ribbon sewn over to hide the ragged edges.  The bust shape was resculpted to curve just right, and OH MY GOD THE WAIST.  THE FUCKING WAIST.  That perfectly smooth curve.  The ribs and the hips fit perfectly, and my shape is just.... god.  it's just perfect.  After putting this on I spent half an hour putting on all my slim form fitting clothes I'm usually too self conscious to wear and nearly crying because I looked SO GOOD in them.  My pattern is FLAWLESS.  I'm so fucking happy.  And because it's a single layer corset, there's no liner for me to fuck up, so the inside is also gorgeous.  Not quite perfect, there's a few places where I had issues with the ribbon binding the edges, but pretty good.  Binding is so hard...

Anyways, I'm pleased with myself.  I feel it is an excellent recovery from the failed corset.

(also, I apologize for the excessive use of caps and profanity... I may be working on a bottle of wine all by myself tonight... which means I'm sorry enough to apologize, but NOT SORRY ENOUGH TO FUCKING TAKE IT OUT!  AHAHAHAHA!)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Costumes

So, Caleb and I had a Halloween party to go to this last weekend, so we needed costumes.  We only realized we'd be able to go a week ahead of time, so I had a week to make Caleb's costume.  Obviously I was fine, with plenty of options.  I wanted to wear Rinoa, but there was going to be drinking, and I spill things when I drink.  If I ruined my Rinoa jacket I'd probably cry for the rest of my life.  Same issue with my steampunk stuff.  I thought about Jessica Albert, but no one would have know who she is.  And Ellone, Raine and River Tam are too subtle to be interesting.  So I went with Aerith.  Did the hair and everything.

Bangs aren't quite as stand-uppy as Aerith's, but you get the idea.

For Caleb, it needed to be simple, inexpensive and fast.  He doesn't like dressing up, so I wouldn't be allowed to do anything elaborate or spend a lot of money on it, and it needed to be easy and quick to make. I also wanted to the character to appeal to him at least a little bit.  So, I went with the Great Saiyaman from Dragonball Z.

He was a very good sport about it.

He already had black pants, I bought him a black longsleeve shirt.  The vest was made using a vague shape based on a t shirt of his.  The cape is four triangles buttoned at the shoulders with functional buttons in case he wanted to take the cape off.  The helmet Saiyaman wears was not an option so we went with the other look. The bandanna is just a triangle of jersey fabric tied around his head. The sunglasses are some cheap ones we'd gotten for free from some sample site and the earpieces used to be neon orange, so I just painted them.  Those were one of our favorite parts, they're the exact same style as Saiyaman's. The belt is a wide strip of elastic with velcro sewn on and a belt buckle made of two circles of foam glued on.  The gloves were difficult cuz I've never made gloves other than my failed attempt for Shannon.  But I managed.  They're just an outline of his hand with interfacing around the cuff for support.  They just barely fit.  The boots are boot covers I made using the same principles from my steampunk spats, only expanded to fit what I wanted.  They have zippers installed in the back and the toes were extended to a point and a cardboard cone glued in.  Painted the toes gold and added the lines with a black sharpie. 

I'm pretty proud of how it turned out, all his nerdy friends knew instantly who he was and assured me that he looked great.

Hee. I got my husband to cosplay. :D

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

It's my birthday! and my husband sent me flowers at work!  Aren't they pretty?  The card with them was amazingly sweet and made me cry.
(willfocus.com is the site of my coworker who is a photographer and took the pics.)

Also, I do have a new project to post.  I recently decided to learn to read Tarot cards, so I got ahold of a deck (Shadowscapes by Stephanie Pui Mun Law- http://www.shadowscapes.com/index.php- good LORD it's gorgeous. I love this artist) and I wanted a fancy box for it to go in.  So I bought a plain one from the craft store and decided to decorate it.  I'd seen several things on Pinterest about staining wood I wanted to try using tea and steel wool soaked in vinegar.  So I made an absurdly strong cup of tea from some tea I'd bought ages ago, and didn't like.  Bigelow's Constant Comment flavored with rind of oranges and sweet spice. icky.  The tea painted on the wood as a rather orange color, which concerned me.  I was afraid I was going to end up with an orange box.  However, when I added the coating of vinegar and steel, the son of a bitch turned pitch black.  Not what I expected.  I was hoping for brown.  But black is better than orange.  So I added some decorative gold paint, and using the gel medium for transferring pictures I'd read about, added a Seal of Rassilon (from Doctor Who) to the top.  It looked appropriately Celtic and mystical for a Tarot box, while being completely and utterly nerdy.  I am happy about it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Corsets

So, I took some pictures of me wearing just my corsets, and I'm going to put them up here cuz I want to talk about them.

We'll start with this one.  (I'm aware the lighting sucks.)  The first one I made.  Made from the scraps of a duffle bag and a suit case, alternating brown and black panels.  I used a generic pattern I found online.  Not a lot of waist reduction, but the fabric looks badass. It was a huge pain to sew though.  So thick, and didn't slide easily through my sewing machine. Inside is a mess, because I'm terrible at sewing bias tape on and the liner doesn't quite fit in places. There's even a spot or two where a boning channel didn't actually get closed when I was sewing, so they've been glued shut.  Quick and dirty fix.  So it's quite messy on the inside.  But it does have the best laces, the ones I got from corsetmaking.com.  I've done several other things for laces, and these are by far the best.  This one's also the easiest for casual wear, I have a sheer black blouse that's hot as hell with this over top.

The second one.  An overbust made from the same pattern as the first.  Burgundy fabric from what looked like a table cloth from Goodwill.  Exterior boning channels done with tape from corsetmaking.com. Same unremarkable waist shape.  This pattern has two gores in the bust, which is really just awful.  I do not have the bust to create the cleavage that would make that shape work.  For me, bust cups have to curve back inward, cuz I just don't have the cleavage.  I should have at least removed one of the gores.  If I ever get motivated I'll overhaul this, because it's almost unwearable as is.  I realize you can't see from the pic, but anyone who cared to see could look straight down my front.  Also, this one has a denim liner which peeks out at the join in the front and makes me insane.  It also had fit problems, and has been snipped and trimmed and glued in place.  And again, store bought bias tape, still badly sewn on.  This is laced with paracord, which does not slide, and makes it very difficult to loosen the laces.  Not a fan. I'll probably change it.

Third: My Jessica Albert corset.  Technically Jessica Albert's thing isn't really a corset, but I wanted to make it that way just cuz.  Drafted my own pattern for this from a tutorial on foundationsrevealed.com.  Much, much nicer waist shape.  Hips are a teensy bit wide.  Not so much that you'd notice, just enough that I know it's not quite right. Put in my first modesty panel since this was lacing up the front.  It's just a closed back, which means I needed enough lacing to be able to pull this over my head.  The problem with this is that means when it's pulled tight, the laces reach the floor.  So I have to tie it in a bow, then tie the bows into a bow to get them short enough.  The fabric is just a faux leather stuff from Walmart.  I tried an experiment with this, adding in a rectangular panel in the back so this would lace closed (to avoid needing the modesty panel) but that destroyed the fit abominably.  And at the point I was at, it would have been too much work to take it apart and take the panel out, so I just folded it in and sewed a seam down the back.  this of course made a big ugly ridge down the back, which I covered with a square of lining fabric.  This liner fit almost perfectly, and since I'd taken my first shot at binding the edges with the same fabric it was made of, I came really close to having a pretty inside.  The bias tape isn't perfect.  This fabric does not hold a crease, but since it doesn't fray either, I didn't bother to fold in the edge on the inside.  The grommets on the front were inserted through predrilled lacing bones, which I will never do again.  It was so difficult to get those grommets through all the layers.  This one is laced with craft cord from the Hobby Lobby.  This is my second best choice for lacing.  Loosens easily enough.  It's just not a nice and smooth as the corsetmaking.com laces.

Fourth!  My newest one that you didn't know about yet!  Also made from my drafted pattern. Again with the pretty waist.  I had not realized the looseness in the hips yet, so that has not been corrected, but again, it's not that big of a deal.  The fabric is scavenged from unused pillow shams from our garage.  I don't believe in pillow shams.  We've had this bed set for most of our marriage, and never once used the shams.  The bust shape has been tailored to fit me, curves inward on top to avoid any unfortunate peeks.  More pronounced point in the front than my others.

This one I straight up made bias tape for.  I even figured out which way the bias went on the fabric and cut it correctly.  Spent a half hour ironing in the creases to the tape.  And my sewing bias tape skills have advanced to where this was almost perfect.  there were a few places where my stitches wobbled, and there's a few folds in the liner where it was just a bit too big, but this one is comparatively gorgeous on the inside.  It makes me so happy.

This one was originally laced with paracord, which is when I decided I hate that, so I changed this to satin ribbon.  Slides more easily than paracord, not as easily as craft cord, but is easily prettier than every other choice.  No modesty panel and no tank underneath, so you can see that strip of skin on my back, and my bra band.  I am thinking I'm going to sew some bra cups into the front so I don't have to wear a bra with this.

So there you have it.  My corset collection so far.  I have plans and supplies for at least three more, four if my boning holds out.  I'm so excited.  I love corsets!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Steampunk and Cosplay Pictures Part 2!

And here's the cosplay.  Just two outfits, but several pictures.

First, Jessica Albert!

Still a few minor details missing, like her pouch, a clip for her whip, and boot covers.  and the belt has some issues.  But the main part is done.  I've even got her necklace and earrings that she wears in the game but don't show in the official art.   Can't really see them though.  The shirt used to be a turtleneck that I cut and hemmed, and added elastic around the top.  The skirt was a curtain, and I just liked the rich color and texture of the fabric.  The petticoat is just a bedskirt with a lacy ruffle that I cut in half, sewed together and added an elastic waistband.  I layer it with my other petticoat for my steampunk outfit to fill out my bustle skirt a bit more.  The corset is an actual boned corset made from a pattern I drafted myself, which I'm rather proud of.  It's also the first time I tried binding with with the same fabric it was made of instead of store bought bias tape.  So much prettier.

And my other outfit.  I finally managed to get some decent shots of me actually in my Rinoa outfit.

Steampunk and Cosplay Pictures Part 1!

So, I finally bothered to learn how to use the self timer on my camera.  took all of 15 seconds just to find the right button.  So I have some costume pics for you! They're not amazing, but at least I'm not holding a camera in them.  There's a lot of pics, so I'm going to break it in to two posts, one for steampunk and one for cosplay.  Let's start with steampunk.

The jacket is from the Simplicity 2172 pattern, a very popular steampunk pattern.  tank top and pants I made underneath.  This is made out of some suede/faux leather almost type fabric which I think looks amazing, but it is HOT AS HELL.  So I made the sleeves detatchable.  You can't tell in this picture really, but around the sleeves I put grommets and the sleeves lace on so they can also be removed.

Like so:

That way I can wear it even if it's not the dead of winter in Alaska.

I think I'm going to put a lot of these clothes on Tipsy and get some better detail shots of them.  You can't even see the cool buttons I used on the front of this... sad.

And here's a better look at the pants.  It was just a basic slacks pattern that I tailored to fit better.

Now for undergarments.  Here's my petticoat.  I bought a wedding dress from Goodwill for a few dollars and just destroyed it.  I cut out the interior skirt for a petticoat, cuz I really didn't want to make one.

My spats are made from the fabric of the wedding dress, which makes them really feel high quality and sturdy.  Also, fifteen million buttons.  Only about 7 of them are real though.  the rest are fake, with a zipper hidden underneath.  I got the tutorial for making the pattern for these from here: http://steamfashion.livejournal.com/525310.html

Yup.  that's a bustle pad made by cutting a pillow in half and sewing it closed.  Just a regular bed pillow.  We had some old ones sitting in a closet.  and I sewed ribbon across the top so I can tie it around my waist.

My burgundy bustle skirt, ruffly collared shirt and burgundy corset with black exterior boning channels.  The light's kinda crap, it's hard to see the colors.

I really need to get a real photographer.

Back view.  I can lace the corset tighter than that, but I was just dressing for pictures quickly.

I should have taken a side view so you can see how far my bustle goes out.

With my burgundy bolero.  sleeves made from lace from my old bridesmaid dress.  connected with a chain across the front that you can't see.

With the brown and black striped underbust corset.  Dunno why I'm making a weird face.

And here's a detail shot of the hat I wore to Beerfest with Amanda.  I quite like it, but I'm going to attach it to a headband to make it easier to wear.

All in all I'm pretty happy with my steampunk stuff.  I'm probably not done making stuff, I know for sure I'm making several more corsets.  But I've got several outfits here, and I'm happy with them.

Friday, October 4, 2013


tsuki ni kawatte oshioki yo!

Yes. That is a little stuffed Luna.  Because I'm the best parent ever.

Moon Tiara Magic!

 Shannon's Halloween costume is done!  I'm so ridiculously proud of this.  Look at my adorable little Soldier of Justice!

I made this myself, and I love how it turned out.  Here's a breakdown of what I did:

Tiara was purchased, and odango covers are circles of cardboard covered in duct tape and glued to clips to attach to her hair.  The choker, which you can sorta see, is just a piece of ribbon with a gold painted crescent cut out of cardboard glued on.  No earrings, because her ears aren't pierced.  I've toyed with the idea of clip ons, but I probably won't bother.

Also, love the crazy eyes in this pic.

Gloves were purchased.  I tried to make gloves and failed.  These originally were trimmed in lace and beads and fake pink jewels with Disney princesses on them.  I took all that off, and sewed three strips of ribbon together, then attached that to the top of the gloves.

Bodice was a longsleeved white v neck shirt.  I cut the sleeves down to short sleeve length, then rolled that up filled with quilt batting for the tops of the sleeves.  I made up a pattern for the collar and stitched ribbon to it.  The brooch was a milk carton lid painted gold.  The crescent and center jewel are made out of hot glue and painted over.  Glued on the rest of the jewels.  I straight up hot glued the brooch to the bow, cuz I just plain didn't want to try to figure out how to attach it any other way.

The front bow is removable, attached with snaps and velcro, to make it easier to get in and out of the costume.

The bows are just rectangles of satin gathered in the middle.  The actual bow is stiffened with interfacing so it stands up.

Around the waist of the bodice I took a strip of fabric trimmed from the shirt and stitched it into a tube with quilt batting inside.  I attached a long piece of blue satin to this, pleating it as I went along.  I closed up the skirt and then attached the whole piece to the bottom of the shirt.  I had wanted top buy a white dance leotard and attach the skirt to that, but I wasn't able to find a cheap one.  This works.

The costume does have boots, they're just boot covers made out of duct tape, but they're a bit of a hassle, since they literally just tape on, so I didn't put them on for this set of pictures.  I'll get pictures of them on Halloween.

Isn't she fantastic? She does the poses, and she knows Sailor Moon's catch phrase in Japanese and English.  Because, as previously discussed, I am the best parent ever.