Friday, July 30, 2010

Of spiderwebs, ruffles and cosplay

And she returns to the ballroom with an array of long-promised crafting photos, and with thanks to her dear guests who have waited so patiently for an update!

Ah, Real Life. Busy, as usual. But not entirely in a bad way, as evidenced by the photos below of my excursion to Comic Con a couple weekends ago. (Wait...does Comic Con count as "Real Life"? It does for me!) Of course, I can't entirely blame my absence on real life, as various fandoms hold their share of the fault. (Yes, I do admit to writing fanfiction, and I blame that on my obsession with Lady Ursa and most especially Prince Ozai of the Fire Nation.)

Now, onward to a group of sewing photos that have been waiting quite a long time to see the light of day--er, cyberspace. As mentioned in the last post, I have been working on The Endless Ruffle for the lower edge of my first loli skirt. Somehow I feel that last sentence needs a <3 at the end, for maximum whimsicality. Which I am quite in favor of!

At any rate, here is the ruffle all spread out on my floor. It looks a bit shinier than it is, because of the flash. Pretty endless, no?

From what I've read, the hem of one's skirt should be four times the circumference of the waist, and then a ruffle is two to three times that! So you can imagine the fun I had basting, especially with that stiff material. (The fabric is synthetic, but I've been told it resembles taffeta, which I suppose lends a bit of that "richness" I'm looking to include in my coordinates. The next skirt will probably more of a natural fabric--partly because I live in very hot Southern California, after all.)

Despite the sewing tribulations, I persevered, and gained victory over The Endless Ruffle!

Here is a close up of the fabric.
Again, the flash makes it look extremely shiny. I fiddled with it a little in Gimp2, but couldn't seem to do much about it (perhaps when I become more of a Gimp guru). My carpet is a much darker green, for that matter.

The spiderweb design is a raised "fuzzy" material. This skirt will be two layers, and for the top layer I have a variation of the same fabric, with a patter of blossoms instead of spiderwebs.

At this point, I still had the basting thread in the ruffle. I like that shade of blue, though. It made me feel very Moitie, even though the thread's a bit lighter than the Moitie shade of blue (even without the flash).

The skirt still needs quite a bit of work, but I hope to complete it by the third week of August. You see, there is a meetup planned for the 21st, which as it my birthday! What better way to celebrate turning 20 than to don my first complete coordinate and attend my first meetup? Pictures of all this sewing and meetup-attending will be forthcoming, I assure you.

Now, onto a little bit of non-loli crafting. Last year for Comic Con, my mother and I (mostly my mother) made an Ursa cosplay that I am quite proud of, as it turned out rather gorgeously. So for two years now, I have attended Comic Con as young Ursa from Avatar: the Last Airbender.

At the convention, Ursa found her favorite student from Monster High: Draculaura (at the Mattel booth)! I'm sure you see why a whimsically romantic goth girl such as myself can identify with her.

This year, I made myself a few new accessories for the cosplay--hence the mention of crafting. At Micheal's (a craft store) I found some lovely beads from Blue Moon Beads, specifically their Asian-influenced line of beads, called Orient Express. With these I made two hair clips, a matching ring (looped around my finger with a ribbon), and a necklace. The pendant makes me think of the Fire Palace, or perhaps Avatar Roku's temple!

Young Urzai (UrsaxOzai) has a special place in my heart, so I mainly cosplay young Ursa, specifically during her betrothal to Prince Ozai (i.e. before she became Princess Ursa). I figure His Highness totally decked me out with jewels--do excuse your host's girlish giggle--and said assumption did rather add to the enjoyment of working on my cosplay! To complete the "decked out" look, I bought a few more accessories, from Target as it happens. There I acquired two more hairclips, a hair elastic (for the back of my top knot), and a ring made from a zipper!

I have a few more crafting pictures for you in the near future, which will include the goods from a recent run to Joann's (my favorite fabric store). I hope to post them very soon, but I believe I should end this post before it gets much longer! In the meantime, do look over the long list of tutorials which the marvelous Miss Caro-chan has compiled over at F Yeah Lolita. As a sewing loli, I know that I at least shall find this compilation quite useful!

Now, happy sewing or however it is that my dear guests like to amuse their darkly frilly hearts. <3

Monday, July 5, 2010

Of strawberries and apples

And she assures her dear guests that she is indeed working on said loli skirt, and will post pictures soon, but first she has a rather more lifestyle-related post to make. (She also wishes to thank all of her followers--fourteen before her seventh post! She never expected that...) And now--

Baking, my dears! Of course, nothing says that you have to like baking or any other "lifestyle" hobby to consider yourself a lifestyle loli (just as a fondness for bats, The Addams family, or any number of traditionally "oh-so-gothic" interests are in no way required to consider yourself a goth). Still, my younger sister (the one that made the lovely Fire Nation doll clothes from a previous post) has been baking a lot recently, and a couple weeks ago she inspired me.

That evening, my parents were to attend a bible study, and my mother wanted to make an apple and strawberry crisp but didn't have the time. So I decided to give it a shot, and by all accounts the people at the bible study quite enjoyed it! We still had enough apples and strawberries left over to make another one, so I did so the next morning and halfway through decided to document the process in case any of you darlings should wish to try it.

I used this recipe, which is very simple. At first I couldn't find our canister of cinnamon, so after a little research I discovered that ground cloves can be substituted, although one must use markedly less, because the taste is so much stronger. The first time I made this, I hadn't ended up with quite enough of the topping (I used brown sugar to fill in the gaps after baking, both times) so I tried to add proportionately more of each ingredient. I only roughly estimated, but it seemed to turn out all right.

Now, for the fruit! This is where I started taking pictures. Having had lots of practice by this point, I was getting better at cutting up apples (which is hard!). I thought I remembered using three (green) apples the first time, but this time two were almost too much for the dish I was using. Maybe it was my (somewhat) improved skill in cutting apple slices.

The strawberries were much easier to slice (if you have a small, sharp knife)--and I must say, I felt very loli while doing so! I cut them into thirds or even fourths whenever I could, and ended up using a one-pound container of strawberries for each crisp.

You can see the strawberries over a layer of apples (which you can't see quite as well). It already looks delicious, no? For the first crisp I ended up using several teaspoons of lemon juice, so the apples wouldn't brown in the air. I'm told it that the first crisp tasted a little tart (though apparently not in a bad way) even though I had tried to compensate with sugar, so this time I used less lemon juice and sprinkled lots of sugar on the apples as well as on the strawberries.

Here are the strawberries with sugar (which was melting, so I had to take the photo quick)! I thought this looked like the perfect sweet loli dessert. Even this goth loli thought it looked delicous!

After this I sprinkled on the topping, and then it was into the oven! As you can see, there was plenty of topping, but after it baked some of the strawberries still showed through. The recipe didn't say whether to preheat the oven or not--but I did so and only baked the crisp 35-40 minutes instead of 45.

While it was baking, I decided to dress up. Till now my wardrobe has been more goth than loli, but I have added several pieces that (to me) fit the loli asthetic, while not being loli themselves. I don't usually dress this fancy (though I intend to change that very soon), but I was somewhat inspired by knowing that I would post this...besides the fact that none of my long pants (better known as trousers to some of you) were clean at the moment.

 red tartan top: Target

black shirt underneath: thrifted? (I believe I got it from my sister--a different sister from the aforementioned one)

skirt: originally a long skirt that I found at a thrift store, which I altered quite a bit last summer (practicing to create garments that "fit the loli aesthetic" despite not being loli themselves). I cut off the lower part and sewed it back on a few inches below the waist line to create the illusion of an extra layer.
Then I gathered the sewn on part vertically in several (well, three) places for a scalloped effect, and sewed on several little roses of red ribbon to match the printed ones on the fabric. One of the gathers broke, so I've been using a safety pin to hold the gather in place (you can't really see the safety pin here). I've decided I rather like the punk-y effect of the safety pin, despite it's being unplanned!

bows: either Hot Topic or Icing

bat necklace (hard to see): Hot Topic

Also: In this photo I'm sporting second day curls from Michelle Phan's tutorial for paper bag curls on Youtube. They were quite a bit curlier before I brushed my hair.

I know the peacock feather looks like it's in my hair, but it's really behind me! The effect of the "feather in my hair" does quite amuse me, looking at this photo.

Here's the crisp after I took it out of the oven. After it cooled a little, I filled in the holes with brown sugar.

Later that night, I tried a piece.
It wasn't too bad--and others of my family, my mother for one, seemed to like the crisp very much. However, something seemed a little bit "off" to me. It's a little hard to be less vague than that, as I'm not sure whether it was "too bland" or what. I may have to experiment a little with this recipe. Still, I'm glad I was able to make a dessert involving fruit--especially strawberries, which are my favorite--and I hope to bake more things like this in the future.

That notwithstanding, chocolate will always be this goth loli's first love. Especially fudge, and truffles...!

Ah, yes--a word of warning to those of you planning to use ground cloves: If you know that the crisp may not be eaten up right away, be careful to use a very tiny amount! The taste of the cloves tends to get a lot stronger after a few days.

Well then, next time I shall regale you with tales of my deathly struggle to gain victory over The Endless Ruffle, and perhaps also post pictures of the goods from an upcoming (and long-promised) trek to the fabric store...
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