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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Queen of Hearts Tea and the Lady Lever Museum

Recently I've been feeling rather alone and down, but thanks to Facebook some good friends - old and new - have cheered me up by asking to see me! Usually I don't do things with friends because I'm rather introverted and as an Aspie I find it hard to deal with social situations, but I've had a lot of fun over the past two days and would like to do it again, and become more outgoing. 

On Friday I went to the Mad Hatter's Tea Pot with an old friend from high school, whom I haven't really communicated with in a long time due to different colleges and courses. It was really nice to meet up again, and even just hearing her laugh makes me laugh and smile. This time I had the Queen of Hearts tea platter, which came with a lovely tuna sandwich and a selection of cakes. I love this cafe and would enjoy going again and again!
Here's what I wore:

Blouse: offbrand
Skirt: handmade
Pearls: 40s vintage
Shoes: offbrand
Socks (not pictured here): Baby the Stars Shine Bright

And the next day I went to the Lady Lever museum in Liverpool/the Wirral with lovely Mo, from my local Lolita group.
Here's what I wore for this casual meet-up:

Blouse: offbrand
JSK: Lovely Sweet Room - Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Headbow: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Shoes: Hush Puppies
Socks: Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Mo was wearing a sax old school Baby coordinate, which was adorable and very Momoko-esque. I loved it!

We took some photos, listened to a live classical music concert (a lot of my favourite songs were played, and it has sparked my desire to learn to play the piano even more) and had a walk around the local area, which was so peaceful and old fashioned that I wanted to live there! After that we sat in a quaint little cafe to have rose tea and hot chocolate and chat. I had so much fun, thank you Mo for the lovely time!

Some photos of the Putting on the Glitz 1930s fashion exhibition, as well as some from the general gallery. Sorry for the blurry photos - I really need a new camera, as mine is quite old, and not in a fun, vintage way. :)


Friday, 29 January 2016

1920s-Inspired Sporty Sailor Dress

Over the past week or so I've been sewing this 1920s-inspired sailor dress with a navy polkadot fabric I picked up on sale. I designed the dress last summer after a trip to London, where I bought the bias binding, iron-on appliques and buttons from Liberty - but I've only gotten round to using them now!

The pattern I based this dress on was Butterick B6185 from the Lifestyle Wardrobe section. I cut the dress short for a dropped waist, added small cap sleeves, drafted and changed the collar to a sailor style at the back, and added a pleated skirt - so it looks completely different from the original pattern. I always have trouble finding a pattern that looks anything remotely similar to my moleskine designs!
I was originally going to add the bias binding (which is gorgeously soft, by the way - I love Liberty fabrics) to the collar, but tackling mitered corners with the bias was really hard, so I had to give up the idea and use it as a faux button placket instead.


I think that the red embellishments go really well with the dark blue and white, and it has quite a vintage feel with the dropped waist and knee-length pleated skirt. The sailor collar is super cute and very nautical for use on the beach; I'm currently making my holiday wardrobe for when I go to Florida at the end of March, and this shall be part of it!
I intend my wardrobe to be vintage-styled but still modern and upbeat with quirky touches (such as the angel wing appliques here), so soon I shall be making a 1940s beach crop top and a Lolita-esque skirt from more Liberty fabric. Perhaps, if I have time, I'll also make some fun 1960s dresses from the Burda magazine I bought last year.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Double Book Review: Never the Sinner and Thrill Me

Since watching Swoon I've been very interested in the Leopold-Loeb case, especially the controlling, disturbed relationship between the two, where they made a pact that if Leopold helped Loeb with his criminal activities, Loeb would love him in return. Never the Sinner by John Logan and Thrill Me: the Leopold and Loeb Story by Stephen Dolginoff go into detail about the pact the two boys made, and speculate as to what their relationship was like behind closed walls. I felt somewhat like a fly on the wall reading the scenes, which is always a good feeling with cases where not very much is revealed!

The characters were not as loathsome as I anticipated (except for perhaps Richard Loeb, though I did feel a bit sorry for him in the song "Afraid", when he realised he wasn't the master criminal or √úbermensch that he fervently believed he was, and became afraid to be executed), and I actually really liked the portrayals of Nathan in these two plays/musicals. Nathan is easily my favourite character out of the two, though I do think that what they did to poor Bobby Franks was despicable.

Both of them were intriguing plays and really made my inner thespian self want to see them on stage; however, both of them were very short for books that cost ten pounds, and it left me wanting more. My favourite out of the two was Thrill Me, as the twist at the end had me on the edge of my seat, suddenly feeling not-so-sorry for Nathan Leopold, whom I'd always sympathised with for feeling like he had to do dirty work to get his relationship with Richard to work, and slightly disturbed over the lengths he'd go to to keep Loeb to himself. The songs were also very catchy and I could hear them naturally being sung, even though I haven't heard the audio tracks for the musical before. Also, the fact that there were only two characters made the obsession between the two boys more obvious and prominent through the way they only had each other to talk to, to rely on.

Monday, 11 January 2016

When the Summer Ends on Sale Now!

After weeks of proof-reading and nerves, I’ve finally taken the plunge and published my first novel to Amazon! I’m thrilled, and at the same time, nearly fainting with anxiety, hoping very much that at least some people will like it.

You can get it from Amazon now for 2 pounds and six pence ($2.99), or free on Kindle Unlimited in a few days (I’ll let you know when I’ve sorted the ins and outs of Kindle Unlimited). Reviews are incredibly welcome, especially of the kind and positive ilk! Here it is.

Hope you enjoy it! Give some love to Nami, who illustrated the cover at her Instagram!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Romantic Mourning One-Piece Dress

I've had the Simplicity Alice and Wonderland pattern for about five/six years now and never really used it until recently, to make my Romantic Mourning Lolita OP. Funnily enough, I ended up cutting out the pattern wrong as the labels were a bit off with some mistakes, but in the end it was in my favour. I tried to make view B but the bodice turned out more like view A, for the Queen of Hearts, which I found I liked better after all.

Please excuse the bad photos; it's hard to get good light in my house, especially when photographing black on black.

Details of the lace, which I bought at a local market.

When wearing it I feel like a mourning Victorian child and a long lost member of Malice Mizer at the same time, haha!
The leg of mutton sleeves could make it look like any period really, from Baroque, the Romantic Victorian period (1830s), to the 1890s and early Edwardian era. 

  In the end, it took just less than a week on and off to make, and I found it relatively easy, with almost no mistakes made! I'm very pleased with it, and the leg of mutton sleeves are fun to wear.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Son of a Witch - Gregory Maguire

Son of a Witch was just as good as Wicked, but this time there were dragons, which marked it slightly higher in my books! It was also slightly gorier than the first novel in the series, which I liked if I'm going to be honest. It wasn't quite horror, but it was edging upon it, talking about the mysterious 'scrapings' and bloodshed.

In Son of a Witch, Liir questions his parenthood - is Elphaba his mother or not? - tries to find Nor again, and gets attacked by dragons, leaving him in a coma. From then he meets Candle and Trism, forming a love triangle that gets rather complex at times owing to his confused feelings for them both. The ending was ambiguous, and I need answers! Does Liir ever find Nor? What happened to Candle and Trism, where did they go? Who does he choose between the two? Is peace ever restored to Oz? I'm very intrigued, and am currently reading A Lion Among Men.

I really liked the character Liir, as he's developed a lot since Wicked, from a small chubby boy to a brave soldier and deserter, trying to find his way in the world. His relationship with Candle and Trism interested me, as I never knew which one he loved more. On one hand he slept with Trism twice of his own free will, and it seemed he had quite a loving relationship with him, but on the other hand he had a daughter with Candle and feels responsible for that... To be honest I prefer him with Trism, as with Candle, he was raped by her and guilt-tripped into looking after their baby; he didn't really have a choice with her, whereas he could have balked out of his relationship with Trism - which could have got him in a lot of trouble - but stood by his side the whole time.
If any fans of the Wicked Years are reading this, what did you think of the relationship between Candle and Liir? It said that he loved her, but I always saw it as a bit forced and abrupt, seeing as she was the one that rescued him from a coma. I'm undecided whether I like Candle or not.

I'm looking forward to finding out the answers in the next two books, but then again I'll be sad about finishing them!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

2015 Sewing Projects

I've noticed a lot of sewing and costume blogs posting their progress in 2015, so I thought why not jump on the bandwagon and do the same, so I can compare my results in 2017! Also, I've recently made a sewing community on LiveJournal, as I noticed a lack of active communities and dress diaries there; only lovely Rosa and myself are members at the moment, though anybody is very welcome to join and start posting: Sweet Sewing is a sewing, knitting and crochet community for anyone of any ability to join. Feel free to join and show off your creations, ask for sewing or design advice, or seek out patterns. Knitting and crochet projects are also welcome. :)

So, for 2015, I have made:

A simple white muslin fichu as part of my ongoing Georgian project.

A Classic Lolita A-line skirt made from fabric from Ikea and white polyester taffeta.

A 50s/otome-kei striped dress, called Evangeline's Summer Dress. This was one of my first projects.

A black Georgian petticoat with ruffle.

A rather failing pair of Georgian stays.

A paisley top for my Mother.

A 20s cloche I made myself from leftover black velvet and some cordoroy.

Queen of Heart skirt made from Spoonflower fabric and inspired by Innocent World.

Another Lolita skirt, this time customised with lace and made shorter.

A jumpsuit for my sister (which she never wore).

A 1940s-inspired beach skirt.

A 50s dress for my dolls.

Hopefully 2016 will be just as, or more, productive! I've already got one dress in the works, which is a historical-inspired Gothic Lolita OP, and am planning my vacation wardrobe for the end of March. So expect plenty of posts from now. :)
For this month I am also working on some gothic poems, maybe more book reviews (the Wicked years all the way!), and perhaps some fanfiction, which you can find at my AO3 account if you're interested. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Film Review: Swoon

Most people expect films set in the 1920s to be fluffy and romantic, or even a little bit silly, but if you're looking for sweetness in Swoon then you'd be hard pressed to find a single drop. Even so, I rather enjoyed it, even if I was confused at times, not being familiar with the  Leopold-Loeb case. The whole film was a black and white nightmare that came in and out of focus and jumped scenes like a dream sequence, atmospheric, broody and surreal.

The story follows the gay relationship between Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two lovers with a penchant for danger and thrills. At a first glance their love is sweet yet reckless, as they kiss out in the open during homophobic times and vandalise properties, breaking glass windows and stirring up trouble. This feckless kind of life would have undoubtedly led to trouble the way they were heading, yet it seemed that they had no reason to kill a poor child, which caused their downfall and imprisonment. I felt that this wasn't very well explained in the movie, and I was left wondering what on earth made them kidnap a boy and murder him, and why they were so cool and collected about it. Either way, it was very disturbing.

 I wish there were more happy films about LGBT people set during historical times, especially in the 1920s. If anyone has any recommendations, I'd be pleased to hear them! 

Monday, 4 January 2016

The Wizard of Oz

Right now I am completely enchanted with the world of Oz; from the sweet yet creepy world in the original film, to the darker, gritty, yet beautifully descriptive Gregory Maguire universe, I am in love. The other night I watched the 1939 version of the Wizard of Oz, and while it wasn't as amazing as I remembered it to be as a child, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The surrealist, almost hallucinogenic, feel of the movie reminds me a lot of Alice in Wonderland, and thus I'd recommend it to any fan of the former novel and film.

Isn't July Garland as Dorothy adorable!

I love the colour and vibrancy of this film, as well as how when Dorothy finds herself in Oz, the world is transformed from sepia to full-colour. I also love Dorothy and Glinda the Good Witch, but the other characters, such as the Munchkins, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion freaked me out a bit, as did the Wizard illusion special effects.
Also, the Wicked Witch of the West was a tad disappointing compared with Elphaba's complexity, though I knew that this would be the case.

Both Wicked and the Wizard of Oz has inspired me to think about making costumes from movies and the theater. Who wouldn't want to go about their day dressed as Glinda, decked from head to toe in tulle ballgowns? Maybe some day in the future I'll make Glinda and Elphaba dresses, inspired by different time periods and their characters...

I'm so in love with this costume, and I think Glinda is my spirit animal, haha.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Recently I have fallen under the wicked spell of Gregory Maguire's Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, to the point where I was feeling lost when I'd finished the book. It was so lucid and imaginative that I literally felt like I was there in the strange land of Oz by Elphaba's side!

Whilst I couldn't even begin to describe the synopsis (so much happens, and in places it is completely different from the musical), I can just say that it follows the life of Elphaba as she grows up, goes to Shiz academy, meets Glinda and all her other friends, and leaves school because of political troubles in Oz. She tries hard to get social justice for Animals after the death of Professor Dillamond, and becomes something of a terrorist as she grows up and rebels against the all-powerful Wizard. Elphaba seems to not have a place she can call home in Oz, and wanders from place to place, even becoming like a nun at one point, until her unfortunate death from the sweet, clueless, and rather dumb Dorothy. These are just the bare outlines, as there are so many characters that we get to learn about and love, and so many lands and provinces of Oz that are lushly described, that it is hard for me to pinpoint and describe my love for just one of them! All I can say is that the genre is fantasy for adults, and it completely warps the story of the Wizard of Oz, perhaps for the better.

I liked the way all aspects of relationships were considered in Wicked, rather than just straight-forward, straight relationships. I was pleasantly surprised that there were rather a lot of gay, lesbian and bisexual characters, as most of the books I have read mostly overlook LGBT people, whereas Wicked had all sorts of relationships - as they say, it takes all sorts to make a world (especially a world as fantastic and strange as Oz)! The relationship between Frex, Melena and Turtle Heart was especially interesting, and I also liked to believe that there was a hint of something between Elphaba and Glinda, even if Fiyero was the love of Elphaba's life.
The mentions of fashions in this book was glorious, especially Glinda in her bright frills and bustles. I'd quite like to make some costume designs based on some of the descriptions in this story. 
Another thing I admired was how complex the world of religion and politics was in Oz. My head was spinning, it was so complicated, though I do mean this in the best way possible.

I loved the character of Elphaba even more than I did in the musical, and perhaps liked Glinda a little less than I did in the musical - funny how these things change. Elphaba is snarky and ultra confident despite her unusual skin colour, and I just love her wit and courage, as well as the fact that she was also capable of love for family and friends - usually characters of her description are seen as cold and unfeeling, yet I got quite a lot of vibes of passion and warmth from her, even towards people that she sees as annoying or inferior.
Glinda is snobby and mean at first towards her roommate Elphaba, but they soon become great friends. She is seen as kind and gentle, but rather superficial and selfish, especially towards the end of the novel. This made me like her a little less, though she still remains one of my favourites.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can hardly wait to read the rest of the series at some point! My New Year's resolution is to read more this year.