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.


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,


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

Monday, 22 September 2014

Simplicity 2757 - Arkivestry Pattern Review

My Vintage Inspired Red Tartan Dress

Yay! It's my first sewing review for my blog. :) I realize that this post is long overdue. I've been struggling these last few weeks to complete my dress and finish taking photographs. Well, it's finally here! I hope you enjoy it and that perhaps it might inspire your next sewing project.

I began sewing this pattern when it was considerably warmer outside and I was in desperate need of another summer dress. After gaining some undesirable weight, I was left with fewer pairs of shorts and dresses that covered my behind. So I rummaged through my pattern stash and I settled on Simplicity 2757, a dress pattern that I had intended to try out years ago.

Simplicity 2757 is an Arkivestry pattern. Don't feel bad if you don't know who Arkivestry is, I didn't know anything about them until these patterns came out. Arkivestry is a design label that has specialized in Gothic and Victorian clothing since the 1980's. In 2008, Arkivestry designed a handful of Gothic and alternative sewing patterns for Simplicity. They started off with these four patterns but have since created two more Steampunk inspired patterns and one dog costume. The majority of these patterns are still available for order through Simplicity's website.

You will find the Arkivestry patterns listed under the costume category. Unfortunately, Simplicity does not consider Goth to be an actual style, therefore they don't feature Goth or Steampunk patterns under the regular apparel categories in the catalog. I guess their stuffy consumer base may struggle with the idea that there's more to fashion than boring, functional clothing with built in modesty panels...
Whatever, fuck 'em.

Arkivestry Overdress 

On the pattern envelope this garment is simply described as a Misses' costume. The instructions reveal it's meant to be worn as an overdress. The illustrations and photograph on the envelope do not make this explicitly clear. In fact, Look B really looks like a dress to me. It's not until you buy the pattern and open it up that you realize it's more like a tunic. This additional photograph (pictured above on the left) does a much better job of showing how the garment is worn. Unfortunately this photo was not featured in the catalog that I looked through, so I had no idea when I bought the pattern that it wasn't a dress. I also thought that the skirt in Look D was included in the pattern but it isn't. Look D is only meant to demonstrate that you can sew the bodice as a standalone garment.

The illustrations are misleading in another way; they show the bottom of the bodice as sitting above the hips when in reality it sits just beneath the waistline. This was a huge drag for me because I wanted the bodice to end closer to the hips. The bodice could be drafted to look that way, however, I decided not to do that because I had a limited amount of material to work with.

How did I do it?

For this project, I really wanted my dress to look vintage and kind of punky. I remember when I was little I saw this hot Goth chick at the mall with a ferret, she was wearing a tartan dress and I desperately wanted it. Of course being only ten years old, my mother would have never allowed it. I'm happy to finally have my tartan dress! Take that mom!!

You may have noticed some differences between my final garment and the pattern illustration. Obviously I got creative and made some significant alterations but it's nothing that you couldn't do yourself. First, I added a zipper to the back of the dress. To do this I added additional seam allowances to the two back pieces. I then joined the front bodice pieces together. I omitted the front bodice band and replaced it with my own homemade eyelet tape. I wanted to create the look of a faux lace up bodice. I then drafted a skirt to gather and sew onto the basque (v-shaped) waistline. I decided to use single fold bias tape to finish my edges instead of sewing a lining (I was afraid that the lining would make my garment too bulky). Originally I had some exposed zippers sewn onto the front of the dress but these proved to be too heavy for my chosen material. I used a lightweight woven tartan which is perfect for this in-between fall weather!

What did I like about this pattern?

First off, it is a relatively easy pattern to sew. There's nothing major to accomplish here, you just need to have a basic understanding of sewing. The pattern involves assembling a lining, punching eyelets and reinforcing the front bodice piece. There is also the option to embellish the garment with a decorative trim. I think this is the perfect pattern if you haven't sewn a dress or bodice before and are ready to give it a shot. The instructions are easy to follow. 

I like that Simplicity took the chance on producing an alternative sewing pattern, even if it is categorized as a 'costume'. I think this is a good pattern for Baby Bats because it's simplified and it could be adjusted to suit whatever your style is. I think this overdress could be paired with other patterns from the Arkivestry collection to look more Victorian or Boho, or you could draft something entirely different. This pattern has lots of potential, you just have to use your imagination.

What did I dislike about this pattern?

It's a good thing that this pattern has such great potential because the design itself is boring. When I bought the pattern I already knew I wanted to make significant design changes. The overall look of this garment is rather dated. The illustrations on the envelope look very 1990's, even their shoes look 90's! The first fabric that they recommend you use is crushed velvet - now that's old school. Unless you're really into the traditional or romantic Goth scene, you might think this pattern is a little cheesy. The inverted scalloped edge is a cool idea in theory but in reality it comes across as costumey (sort of like those weird cardigans that have bat wings sewn in the armpits). After reviewing the Arkivestry portfolio I found that the majority of their designs are more romantic, which isn't my personal aesthetic. So again, it's great if you're into that sort of thing but I was hoping for a more modern design aesthetic.

The other thing that I didn't like about this pattern was the front bodice band. This is the decorative piece where the overdress laces up. I just don't like how the front bodice band looks. I knew something about it was off when I first saw the overdress illustrations. This became even more apparent when I looked at other reviews of this pattern. For some weird reason they designed the bodice band as being curved inward and tapering towards the top of the bodice (as shown in the diagram below). In my opinion, this inward curve conflicts with the curve of the bust seams. The bust seams are pointing outwards and the bodice band is being pinched inwards, giving the bodice this unnecessary bulky appearance. I can't for the life of me understand why they would design it that way, instead of making the band straight. In my dress I replaced the front bodice band with my own eyelet tape and ran it parallel to the center seam.  

What did I learn?

Plaid and princess seams do not work well together! What a nightmare. This is something that I really struggled with when sewing my dress. Maybe one day I'll make a tutorial on cutting pattern pieces out of tartan, but for now I'll give this simple piece of advice: align all seams using the horizontal stripes of the tartan as a guide. If all of your stripes line up horizontally it will look harmonious - even if your vertical stripes aren't perfectly aligned! The other thing I learned is how to draft a gathered skirt for a basque (v-shaped) waist, which wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. : )

What would I change if I could sew it again?

If I sew it again I will sew it with the lining and use a sturdier material for the bodice. I might even use boning for a stronger structure. I will probably widen the straps because I think they're too skinny for the overall construction of this bodice. I will definitely add length to the bodice and have it cut closer to my hips. I might consider reducing the size of the garment, or take in the waist seams, as there appears to be some excess material in the midsection of my dress (I'm not certain as to whether that's a design flaw or an error in the fitting process).


Overall I think it's a lovely dress and an easy pattern to make. It could be a great wardrobe builder. You could adapt this overdress into a sundress, the bodice into a vest; oh hell! I can even see the bare bones of a Lolita dress somewhere in there. You're only limited by your imagination! If you have this pattern available to you I encourage you to give it a try. :)

Kind regards,

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

How to look Fae for Fall

Autumn Favorites for Fae

Granted Fae fashion isn't exactly plentiful or affordable, I can't help but daydream about the fashions I would wear for autumn. I found a few beautiful pieces I would like to share with you. Perhaps you might find some inspiration that will help build your autumn wardrobe!

I Dream of Green

I love green. My favorite colour is chartreuse but I love emerald green, too. You may not think of green when you think of autumn but I sure do. I have always noticed the leaves on the trees getting darker before they begin to change colour. It's the first indication that fall is approaching. I usually see it in the middle of August. Long before the arrival of autumn red or pumpkin orange, there's dark green! I picked this cute tattered frock because it evokes a sense of whimsy, it screams Fae to me. I especially love it in emerald green, but it's also available in violet or red if you're interested. I felt it would look gorgeous paired with this embroidered velvet jacket, which would be perfect for those cool nights. I also love these boots, although I could never afford them!

Boots - Gipsy Dharma's Dark Forest Green Knee-high boots 
Dress - Dark Star Raphaelle Dress
Jacket - Nomads Green Velvet Jacket
Ring - Celtic Jewelry's Trinity Cup Ring
Bracelet - Celtic Jewelry's Celtic Cuff Bracelet
Necklace - Celtic Jewelry's Tree of Life Pendant

Harvest Queen

One of the things that attracted me to Fae fashion is its use of natural colours and organic motifs. This mood board began with the gown on the right. I fell in love with its unusual colour, it epitomizes autumn! It's a deep, warm copper organza. It glitters like fresh dew on fall foliage! Although the dress is a bit snazzy, I would definitely wear it for a day out. It's just too beautiful not to! I adore this tattered two way zip jacket, which I think could go really well with the dress. It looks warm and cozy. If I were to accessorize this outfit I would use amber because it picks up on the copper in the gown and sparkles beautifully when the light catches it. I also adore this purse and would love to buy it some day!

Dress - Sinister Autumnal Dress
Jacket - Punk Rave Misanthrope Tattered Jacket
Bracelet - Pewter Celtic Bracelet from KinkyAngel.co.uk
Necklace - Ian and Valeri Co. Honey Amber & Sterling Silver Necklace
Earrings - Amber and Silver Earrings from AmberZone.co.uk
Purse - Elder Fairytale Satchel from Fairysteps.co.uk

Fairy Feet

I found a lot of great items when writing this post. Some of which I had no idea ever existed! For example, these High Leaf Boots (photographed above) are from Pendragon Shoes. I thought for sure they were photoshopped but apparently they're real! They cost a considerable amount of money but they're sure to make heads turn. I'd love to have these boots!! Pendragon's sandals are equally cool but not quite as expensive. Not fall friendly, but I'd love a pair of the maple leaf sandals for spring. Here are my favorites.

I also adore the boots available from Fairy Steps! They sell both stock and custom made footwear. I would love to save up my pennies to buy a pair of these. :) I also featured one of their handbags above. You should check out their site for other great products.

What do you think of these Fae fashion finds?

Kind regards,

Illustration by Amy Brown, all product photographs are stock images.

Friday, 12 September 2014

What shall I be? ♪

Thinking of Halloween costumes

Have you ever watched Garfield's Halloween Adventure? It's an 80's cartoon special that is replayed on television every Halloween. Even though I'm not that crazy about it, for some reason I can't help but watch it. It must be pure nostalgia. Whenever Halloween rolls around I get the "What Shall I Be?" song stuck in my head. The song I'm referring to is sung by Garfield while he looks for costumes in his attic. He tries on a handful of costumes and then decides he wants to be a pirate. For some people choosing a costume is easy but for other people (like me) it's a pretty flustering process. There have been many Halloweens where I have felt like Garfield, stuck in an attic full of limitless costume possibilities.

Why do we wear costumes?

Have you ever wondered why we dress up in costumes? I don't think people give it much thought. I was reading some research papers on the subject, and I found that many sociologists believe our need to wear costumes is more than just for the sake of tradition. They believe that costumes are a way for us to seek social acceptance. They provide us with a creative outlet and they allow us to experiment with self expression. When you think about it, costumes truly are the perfect vehicle for self exploration. For example, if you ever wanted to be more girly, selecting a Halloween costume that fulfills that desire is a perfect way to experiment with that personality type. Costumes provide you with a degree of anonymity, so you can choose to hide "behind the mask" while you role play (this can be especially helpful if you are afraid of receiving ridicule from your peers).

Some sociologists feel that the Halloween costume is an extension of an individual's personality. Perhaps this is why some people place such great importance on their costume decision. If you were to wear an expensive or elaborate costume, people may interpret that to mean you're wealthy or of high status. If you were to wear a funny costume it could give the impression that you're quick witted and humorous, whereas wearing a scary costume might make you appear strong and domineering. It's all about how we want to be perceived by our peers and what we want to experience. Do you want to be praised for being cool or ironic? Or do you want to feel like you're in control?

Those are some pretty interesting questions to ask yourself. It may be hard to answer them, especially if you're someone like me who is rather anti-social and not terribly interested in what others think about her. Maybe that's why Halloween costumes have been a life long struggle for me! Thinking back, many of my Halloween costumes were just worn because I had no time to do anything better or because I couldn't think of what I wanted to go as. The only ones I do recall choosing were a superhero, a geisha, Little Bo Peep, and a seriously failed mummy. I went as a witch every other time because it was my emergency costume (I had worn it since I was little). Considering these deep questions... I wonder if my need to dress alternative is similar to that witch costume in the sense that I don't know what I am, so I settle for being goth. Heavy.

A Tough Decision

I'm still struggling with what I would like to wear for this Halloween. I have no idea what I'm going to be. I also haven't made any plans yet (because it's too early) and that will have an impact on my final decision. If I'm not going out it probably isn't worth investing my time into sewing a new costume. If I do go out, I would love to sew another costume. I sewed my last costume and really enjoyed the final product. It felt different than a ready to wear costume; it looked very pretty and I had bragging rights that I made it. Last year I went out as the nursery rhyme character, Little Bo Peep. I wanted to try a cute costume because I had never done that before. I don't really want to do that a second time in a row, I'd prefer to try something new. There are a few different kinds of costume that you can choose from: funny, scary, sexy, cute and iconic. Sometimes there are hybrids of those categories.

I think iconic costumes are the most popular ones out there. This year there will probably be a few thousand little girls dressed in Frozen costumes and another few thousand kids in Ninja Turtles costumes. Licensed costumes are a hot number. Second only to whore costumes, and for adult women, that's all costume shops will sell. You either want to go out as Elsa or you want to go as a whore    insert career here  .  It's no wonder I have to resort to making my own costumes...

I currently have a handful of costume patterns in my stash. I could make most anything with them but this year I'm stumped. I have a creative block. I just keep seeing what's on the envelope instead of the potential these designs have. Push comes to shove, I may go as a pirate because I have three different pirate patterns, but I'm not enthused about that. I'd love to go as a vampire but I can't until my braces are finished. I don't feel like doing a witch costume for the hundredth time. I thought about going as a viking, until I realized they actually dress in really simple clothing. I just want something interesting... Something new, with a folkloric, supernatural or fairy tale aspect to it... It's going to take a lot of brainstorming before I get anywhere...

What steps do you take when selecting a costume for yourself? Do other peoples' tastes and opinions influence your decision making? Do you know what you're gong as this year?

Kind regards,

Friday, 5 September 2014

Back to School Style

Just another excuse to shop

It's the first year that I'm not returning to school and I'm really relieved about that. But, I have to admit that I do miss back to school shopping. Every September I would get excited, not for school of course, but because I could show off all the neat shit I bought over the summer! It's a drag that I've been dirt poor and unable to buy new wardrobe items but I've been having fun sewing my own clothing (...except all the problems I've been experiencing with this last pattern, you'll hear more on that soon). I can't help but get the itch to shop again. I've been browsing online catalogs and web shops and amassed a few outfits I would love to have. Perhaps these mood boards might inspire you! : )

Witchy Woman

(Photo at top of post) I love this look, it has a traditional goth feel to it with a contemporary edge. It also kind of reminds me of Gothic Lolita. It makes me think of the movie The Craft, which you should watch if you never have.

Dress - Jawbreaker Persephone Dress
Purse - Restyle Magic Spells Handbag
Ring - Alchemy Gothic Roseus Pentagram Ring
Bracelet - Alchemy Gothic Skull and Briar Rose Bracelet
Earrings - Kill Star Pentagram Hoop Earrings in Silver

Blood Lust

I love blood red, not that fake blood red that looks like tomato soup, I mean deep and sultry blood red. This outfit is sex and I need it. I have a new found infatuation with velvet even though I use to despise it. Perhaps it's the cool weather, but I need me some velvet shoes and matte burgundy lipstick.

Top - Restyle Bitchcraft T-shirt
Bottoms - Banned Gothic Cross Cameo Trousers
Shoes - T.U.K. Burgundy Velvet Wedge Creeper
Bracelet - Kreepsville Skull Bracelet in Black
Earrings - Sourpuss Coffin Drop Earrings
Necklace - Rock Rebel Caged Heart Necklace

Leader of the Occult

When I was a child I would dress up in my girl scout uniform and pretend I was Dana Scully. I also had a massive crush on Fox Mulder. Kinda messed up when you consider I was only seven lol. I've never let go of my fascination with the supernatural, even though I'm much more skeptical now. This outfit speaks to my more curious side. I love these symbol leggings because right now I'm crazy about black and white prints. I also like a hint of colour in my wardrobe, which is what attracted me to these shoes and accessories. I like how they have an outer space vibe.

Top - Lip Service Draped and Dreary Tunic
Bottoms - Banned Gothic Pentagram Leggings 
Shoes - Aldo Baellan Sneakers
Earrings - Body Vibe Ombre Faux Tapers
Necklace - Extreme Largeness Space Illuminati Necklace

We got this in the bag

I own a lot of purses and backpacks, so it's not like I need more of them. But if I did, these would be hot contenders. I already have a holographic purse from the 90's and I'm still smitten with the look. I miss the raver days. As I mentioned before, I'm really into black and white prints and Ouija prints appear to be a hot number at the moment. I also have a soft spot for sugar skulls.

1. Banned Apparel Candy Skull Backpack
2. Stuff of the Dead Ouija Board Backpack
3. Sprayground Happy Daze Delux Hologram Backpack

Are you hyped for back to school? What's your style?

Kind regards,

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