Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Simplicity Produces Alternative Sewing Patterns

From Fae to Lolita: Sewing Patterns for the Alternative Wardrobe

If you haven't noticed, we're quickly finding our way into September. Yes, fall is taking over. It can be seen in the tops of trees, in the rosy cheeks of children and in the costume category of the sewing catalogs. Halloween is back, baby. Sorry, but I've been watching a lot of bad 80's action films lol. This means that there is a whole new batch of costume patterns. I'm happy to see that alternative fashion is yet again weaseling its way into the catalogs. In the past there have been a few Steampunk and Goth patterns available through Simplicity and McCalls catalogs but this year we have more fantasy based costumes. Fae, yes FAE inspired patterns and there's even a Lolita pattern! I might add that although these are listed as costumes much of which appear to be hidden in this category for no reason. Why? Because Simplicity or McCalls do not have the balls to acknowledge alternative styles as real fashion. It might upset a certain part of their close-minded stuffy consumer base. Perhaps one day they'll pull their heads out of their asses and realize that alternative fashionistas make up a good portion of today's sewists.

Now because these are costumes you might be thinking they aren't worth looking at. Well, very soon I will show you how you can adjust a costume pattern for use in sewing ordinary clothing. Let's look at what's available!

Simplicity 1293
Misses' Costume Jacket, Wings, and Hat

Egads! We finally have a pattern for elven and fae enthusiasts that isn't just a tutu with wings! It's refreshing, isn't it? Although I'm not hot on most of this pattern, I do like the embellished green coat, minus the pointed hood. As with most costume patterns, I believe this pattern definitely has potential and can be adjusted to be sewn as an actual garment very easily.

Simplicity 1300 
Misses' Costume Overdress with Skirt

This is another K Rescent Costumes pattern, only this one takes a stab at the Lolita and Gothic Lolita styles. It looks mildly successful, I prefer the look on the right. It's a little disappointing that this pattern is limited to just an overdress and skirt but it's a start. The only other time I've seen Simplicity attempt Japanese fashion was with Simplicity 2522, a girl's Harajuku or Decora street fashion pattern. I can't say for sure what Lolita girls will think of this pattern... Some Lolita chicks just have a massive stick up their ass and won't accept any attempt by pattern companies. At least those looking to go as Marie Antoinette for Halloween will enjoy this. 

Simplicity 1347
Misses' Fantasy Costumes

Okay, so they're clearly attempting to channel GOT with this one but not being a fan of that show I can't comment much on the similarities...other than that horrendous wig. The cincher is cute, as is the tank top and the flowy Grecian style gown. Other than that it's very simplified and would need a lot of work to get it up to my standards of daily wear.

Simplicity 1773
Misses' Medieval Dress in Two Lengths

Again, here we have another fantasy period pattern which is obviously pulling inspiration from today's pop culture. I really like the look on the left. I'm not sure about the puff sleeves but the rest of it is adorable and I would love to have this pattern. It has a weird Joan of Arc, kick-some-ass feel to it.

Simplicity 1558
Misses' Steampunk Costume

This isn't a new pattern, it's been in the catalog for awhile but I had to mention it because it is one of the nicest looking Steampunk patterns available. It looks well designed, I'd like to buy it even though I'm not crazy into Steampunk. I could think of a thousand uses for the jacket and the underbust.

Simplicity 1550
Misses' Amy Brown Fairy Costume

Also not new but worth mentioning is Amy Brown's fairy costume pattern. I know some fae lovers will recognize the name of the artist, these costumes are based off of her designs. They look a little labor intensive with the finish on the tattered skirt but I've seen someone write a review for it recently where she left the edges unfinished and it looked alright.


I'm really impressed with the selection of costume patterns from Simplicity. There isn't nearly as much offered by the competitors and Simplicity at the very least experiments with alternative fashion. I find they are much more in tune with current trends. The other nice thing about Simplicity patterns is that it takes a while before they retire a costume pattern; there are still costume patterns for Pirates of the Caribbean and we all know how long ago those came out! Again, don't be put off by the fact that these are listed as costumes, they can and have been modified for use as daily wear. I will discuss that and the Arkviestry patterns in an upcoming pattern review post (hopefully by the end of this weekend). A special thanks goes to Kim of Steam Ingenious, who indirectly reminded me that I should finish this post - and she is a talented seamstress who has turned costume patterns like these into real life works of art.

Kind regards,

Friday, 15 August 2014

Face Off

Fantasy Fashion through Creature Creation

Have you ever watched an episode of Face Off? My fiance and I recently rewatched every season. I only began watching this show two years ago but my fiance has been a die hard fan from the very beginning. I never thought I would enjoy watching a bunch of artists sitting around sculpting and painting special effects makeup but it's strangely enjoyable. Yes, it is a reality TV show and no, there isn't half as much drama as you would expect there to be.  It's a good thing too because I hate watching people argue, I just want to see people getting shit done lol.

You might be wondering why I'm bringing this show up at all, what connection can it have to fashion? First, let me explain a little about the show.

Face Off is not necessarily about creating gory effects or life sized props, instead there is a stronger emphasis placed on creating a character. The contestants are given a specific theme for every challenge, for example they might have to create a witch from the planet Mars. The artists will start by completing various rough sketches to flesh out their concepts. Then they will proceed to sculpt the character's face and body parts in whatever way they see fit. Sometimes they will fabricate a costume for their character but usually the costume design is interpreted and completed by a department off screen. Every episode they are judged by a panel of prestigious makeup artists and one person is awarded a win while another contestant is eliminated.

Fashionable FX

Now what does any of this have to do with fashion? You could argue nothing whatsoever but I postulate that the makeup designs on this show not only mimic but inspire current fashion trends. There have been many instances on this show where the term Steampunk is thrown around and if you're familiar with Face Off you may recall Nicole Chilelli's junkyard chickie (right) whose out of this world ensemble is reminiscent of the Steampunk aesthetic. Contrast that with one of Laura Tyler's highly ornate and graceful makeup designs (photo at beginning of post) and we have a makeup that borrows elements of Renaissance and Rococo but alters it into a style that's nothing short of groundbreaking. I want that weird corset with the messed up looking breastplate because it looks like nothing I've seen before. Granted the idea here is for contestants to create something other-worldly but because these makeups are mounted on human beings I cannot help but relate to them. We've seen some whacked out designs in high fashion shows before, plenty that earn the description of "other worldly", so what makes these makeup designs any different? I admit that much of what you will see on Face Off simply is not practical for day to day wear, they are costumes, however, many of the high fashion designs seen on runway shows aren't fit for daily wear either! How many runway horror stories have we heard of shoes that are too high, garments that weigh too much or are restrictive and uncomfortable? High fashion is just another art show but like high fashion, the designs from Face Off can be reinterpreted, simplified and converted into ready to wear clothing.

Now, I can't help but mention that not every makeup artist on this show is extremely talented with a strong artistic sensibility. There have been a lot of awful makeups! And a lot of horrible costumes provided by the wardrobe department. But I don't watch the show for the costumes, I watch the show to see the sculpting and the painting because it's the whole package that interests me. If the makeup at the top of this post was reduced to nothing but wardrobe and paint it would be a wimpy looking skirt with some pale makeup. It's the sculptural applications that really bring it to life.

When you're watching this show your imagination can't help but swing into overdrive. You begin fantasizing about what you would make if you were in the artist's shoes. These makeups will have you wondering about a character's backstory and what great tales lie in wait, or they might just inspire your next outfit. Fans of Fae and Steampunk will really enjoy some of these character designs. You might find yourself sketching outfits inspired by what you see on Face Off. I'm planning on designing an outfit based off of a Face Off makeup.

I strongly recommend watching an episode of this show, just once. You might find you like it! I recommend seasons two to five. Season six is worth skipping over, it's regarded as one of the worst. Seven - currently running - is proving to be a massive disappointment. It seems they've already "run the gamut" of great makeup artists. That's the biggest flaw for this kind of show and I admit I saw it coming because there aren't that many makeup artists out there. The special effects industry has been struggling to stay afloat for years because most production companies not only find it more cost effective but time efficient to employ the use of computer animation. It's sad that Face Off might be in its final days but it has certainly produced a few great seasons that are worth re-watching

Have you seen this show? What do you think?

Kind regards,

Images used are from Mission Control Media / SYFY
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