Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of roses and a slumbering princess

With Halloween fast approaching, you know what that means for us gothic types: it's time to put together a costume worthy of the most otherworldly fantasies of our spookily-inclined hearts. At least, it does to me. With that in mind, several days ago I headed to a recently opened thrifts store (Acts Thrift Store, for any interested readers here in LA).

Perhaps because of the approaching holiday, or possibly as a result of my improved thrifting skills, I came across many goth-and-lolita-friendly finds. For those who, like me until recently, were mystified by the elusive Way of the Thrift Store Goer (so to speak), I've found that the way to find treasures is to keep firmly in mind what types of material you are willing and not willing to have in your wardrobe.

You don't have to have extensive knowledge of various types of fabric (heavens, I can't claim I do either). But when you consider a certain item, look at the fabric and try to decide if you're willing to wear that type of fabric. If not, there's not much you can do except use the item's design as a pattern for a similar item. On the other hand, a horrible item made of wonderful fabric can be used for raw materials, even if your DIY skills can't salvage the item's original design.

(Note~ Much of my thrifting knowledge has been gleaned from more experienced thrifters, such as The Lady of the Manners and Miss Lumpy. Their names link to a thrifting post from each of them, in case you're interested. Actually, to tell the truth, I couldn't find an entire thrifting post from the the Lady of the Manners, so in her case the linked post is merely one of several Gothic Charm School columns that has a paragraph or two of wise words about thrifting.)

Now, what treasures did I find? First, I have to tell you a bit about my planned Halloween attire. For the longest time I was torn between several options, but I believe I've happened upon a costume idea that incorporates them all. In short~ gothic Sleeping Beauty, thus combining one of my favorite fairytales with one of my favorite subcultures (the other being lolita, naturally).

For a longer explanation, well, I shall explain. Have any of you heard of the Visual Kei band Lareine? They aren't active any more, but I found out about them because their singer, Kamijo, went on to create the band Versailles, which is my very favorite musical group. If you like roses, vampires, French aristocrats, and a dash of symphonic and power metal, all mixed together in a fantastical epic saga, I highly recommend Versailles.

Little by little, and especially in the past few weeks, I've come to love the sentimental, romantic atmosphere of Lareine as much as I love the dramatic, unearthly grandeur of Versailles. One of my favorite Lareine songs is "Kyokutou no Koibito," which I have seen translated as "The Far Eastern Love." Judging from my still developing Japanese skills, it could also be translated "Lover from the Far East." Take your pick, my dears.

To tell you the truth, I'm really not sure how exactly the title ties into the rest of the song (although I love the title all the same). The song seems to be about a version of Sleeping Beauty with black roses twined in her hair, slumbering "in the midst of briar roses" while her prince searches for her with a sword of glass. From what I can gather, at least. Here are the romaji lyrics at, and an English translation at this website, if you'd like to read them. And of course, a link to the song itself on Youtube!

Rather than wearing loli, I planned to put together a long, flowy gown type of costume--the kind of thing in which you might imagine a princess slumbering. At first, while wandering around the thriftstore, I was trying to make up my mind between a kuro outfit, to go with the roses, and a shiro outfit, which besides having that lovely ghostly look I've been craving, would also feel more like a costume.

That came out strangely, but I mean that while I love kuro gothic, and I'm sure I could pull together a kuro outfit that felt fantastical enough to me, it would take more work because kuro gothic makes up the greater part of the wardrobe I'm putting together. Shiro, however, while it will eventually have it's own place in my wardrobe, lends itself more easily to the "strange and wondrous" feeling a costume should have, simply because I haven't worn white in so long. Dear me, I'm not explaining this very well, am I? Ah well...

In the end, in true Dusk Rose fashion, I picked...both! Well, I will have a mostly white costume, with a few black accents. In addition to tying in the roses, this will give me another dose of the Yoh-esque black x white asthetic I've been craving recently. Speaking of Yoh, I've figured out another piece of art that probably influenced both my love for the black x white look (not exactly the oldschool type of black x white, though I love that too) and my costume choice. I present to you this gorgeous piece by Mayatosi, which I first discovered via Tumblr. Doesn't it have a gorgeous, sentimental air of melancholy about it?

Is it picture time? Yes, at last!

I found a couple of skirts each made of the same, slightly crinkly material, and will use fabric from the all white one to make the other a bit longer and fuller.  

(Is that a "bubble skirt," I wonder?)

 (Sorry, I couldn't get this one to completely stay on the windowseat.)

Speaking of black and white, I love that embroidery at the bottom. The design uses white (or silver?) thread as well as black, which is delightful because one of my favorite types of fabric is the kind with embroidery in the same shade as the background, such as white on white or black on black. A detail shot~

For the top half of the outfit, I took my own advice and sought out an average button down shirt with fabric I love. It's full of the above mentioned white on white embroidery, you see. Even if I can't salvage the blouse, I have Big Plans for that material. I just haven't figured out what said plans are, yet.

I also found this blouse, which has the virtue of poofy sleeves. (Always a good thing. Always.) We will see what DIY can do with it. In order to spare you yet one more in this deluge of pictures, I laid out my third blouse option along with it. Well, not really a blouse option--I bought this one mainly for the sleeve material.

The one feature I knew my costume had to have was long flowy sleeves that gathered at the wrist and just below the shoulder, so I plan to use the lace material to achieve that effect. The lace (which unfortunately you can't see very well) isn't perfect, but it's pretty soft and it has a pattern of roses! To go with the (to be DIY-ed) ones in my hair! Er, excuse my squeeing then, if you will.

If you're like me, you believe that corsets and the like are always a good thing (kind of like poofy sleeves, but even more so--if you can believe it that is). Accordingly, I've found some sort of corset belt-ish thing made out of the most lovely silky black fabric, which will tie in the other black accents very nicely.

The nice thing is that when I'm done with this costume, the separate pieces will fit will into my regular wardrobe, so all my sewing work won't be in vain. Speaking of my regular wardrobe, though, I found the most amazing tee shirt while costume hunting.

It has a chandelier! Besides featuring one of my very favorite motifs, this will make an excellent cutsew to go with my socks (see previous post)! Really, I've been needing more chandeliers in my wardrobe...but then, don't we all? (Oh all right, I mean that all of us probably have some outlandish motif or design feature we adore--such as carousels, or cake hats, yes? Or black roses.)

Of kneesocks, lace and chandeliers

So then, what has your ballroom host been up to this past week or so? Well, a substantial portion of the answer would be: knitting. Do any of you happen to remember that tiny strip of red knitting from one of my early posts, which I promised would someday transform into a lace-up knee sock before your very eyes?

Well, so it has...

I haven't added the ribbon to lace it up yet, but almost-completing this inspires me to get finished more quickly with the other sock! I loosely followed the "Victorian Lace Socks" pattern by Lorri Ann Romesberg on The primary stitch--the mini-melon stitch--is based on a Victorian lace pattern. The yarn is Country brand.

Not many of you besides my fellow A:tLA fans will appreciate this, but I must admit that whenever it came time to make the "melons" I had the urge to declare, "I am Melon Lord! Mwa ha ha!" ~a la Toph. An urge I gave into more often than not.
Speaking of knitting, recently we took a trip to Micheals' (a crafts store here in the US) and my portion of the spoils were mostly of the yarn variety.

I already have some Vanna's Glamour yarn in black with golden metallic flecks, but I fell in love with the grey and silver version too. This yarn reminds me of delicate, spider-web lace--the kind my spider-fay characters would spin.

I remain fascinated by the Yoh-esque black x white asthetic I mentioned before, and I'm in the process of putting together a coordinate that captures it. I have the perfect kneesocks--a pair black with white chandeliers, which may be seen on this page (scroll down) at, but there's just one problem. The socks are not the best quality, and to my dismay they're getting holes in the toe. So, I have attempted to recreate the pattern in black and white yarn. It took a lot of stitch-counting and close examination of the sock, and I had to write down the pattern of black and white stitches in each row as I went along. But I don't think it came out too shabbily.

As you can see, the scale of the pattern is much larger in my knitting, because the yarn is so much thicker. (I'm using two different brands of yarn for this practice piece: the black and slightly finer yarn is Simply Soft and the white is, I believe, Bernat Satin). I would like to see if I can adjust the stitch count to make the chandeliers small enough that they would look good on socks. Of course, using a smaller yarn would help too.

All the same, I plan to use this piece of knitting as some kind of decorative...something, probably for my room. You see, I'm in the process of organizing and loli-gothify-ing my things, and it's still in the hectic stage. But if I start with the decorative crafting now, it will give me a head start--and besides, all organizing and no DIY makes DuskRose a very dull goth loli.

So, have you been knitting anything lately? Is there anything that you'd like to knit but don't quite have the courage to begin? I hadn't worked at all with different colors of yarn before making this chandelier, and replicating the sock pattern was another new challenge. That's to say, don't be afraid of trying something new. I know it sounds cliche, but I a little encouragement is never a bad thing. So if you've knit or crocheted anything recently, or just want to, let me know in a comment!

Of Other Cyber-Castles

Thanks, once again, to my new followers! I noticed several of you have lolita blogs, and I'm always glad to discover more of those!

A short list of my recent followers' blogs, for those interested:
~The Dark Victorian by OpiateVampire, a lifestyle gothic lolita whose views about lolita blogging and lolita in general I can very much relate too, because they are (for the most part) not too different from my own. And really, you should see her tips for gothify-ing one's living space!
~Lemontree by Oli, the lovely host of that first and only meetup I've attended (so far), a lolita who enjoys the lighter substyles and very adorably coordinates them.
~Bloody Fashionista by Crimson, who seeks "dark romanticism" (as she put it) in her preferred style of lolita--a quest to which I can certainly relate!
~Pretty Kiss by Firefly, a sweet lolita (I believe) whose appreciation for other styles, such as classic and even gothic, I very much admire!

My lovely Ballroom-guests will find these and many other lolita blogs in my blogroll, there at the side. If any of you have a lolita blog (whether or not I already follow you--yet, that is!) which you would like me to include here, do let me know in a comment! (Likewise, if any of you to whose blogs I've linked would rather not be featured here, let me know and I will edit the post accordingly.) I don't have a myriad of followers, but if I can help you get word of your lolita blog out there, I'd be glad too. Besides, I always love discovering new lolita blogs!

I should note, of course, that the idea of having a lolita blog listing post came from Miss Caro-chan of F Yeah Lolita, a gothic lolita with strong classic leanings. I'm sure many of you already follow her, but if not, why don't you check out her corner of the loli blogosphere?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Of monochrome flowers

A myriad of thanks and welcomings to my new followers! I do hope you enjoy your stay at the Ballroom.

Now, then. Recently I took a couple of excursions to one of the farther-away-but-massive Jo-Ann's Fabric stores, and you know what that means: picture time!

Browsing with the eye of a kuro gothic, I was unfortunately not able to find much useful fabric. It seems Jo-Ann's suppliers have not realized that subtly embroidered black-on-black wovens (or even just plain polished cotton or cotton sateen) are Absolutely Essiential. Next I will have to try looking online or dying fabric that's already close to black in color.

However, the visit proved useful in other ways.

Lately I've been craving more of a black-and-white aesthetic--not so much oldschool (though I like that too) as "delicate details in black white and grey scale, all mixed together." It's hard to explain, but perhaps you'll understand when I explain that part of my inspiration for this new greyscale craving is the Japanese artist Yoh, who creates beautiful and delicately morbid artwork without a hint of color in sight.

With that in mind, I decided to have a look at the quilting fabrics (which are generally stiffer than you'd want for regular clothes, but not bad for lolita skirts, or so I've heard). They actually have quite a few black and white prints, and in the end I purchased this one.

I love how bold yet ornate it is. It doesn't hurt that flowers and curlicues are some of my favorite motifs. I may try making just a simple rectangle skirt this time, both to show off the print and to hone my skills in skirt-making (drat that waistband).

On the next outing, I discovered some ribbon that almost matches the material. I'd like to figure out some sort of headpiece to make with this, to match with the skirt.

Speaking of the skirt, I found some buttons that will look lovely as fastenings for the skirt. They had several black and white button designs, but after deliberating I decided these pearl buttons would show up better than a button with such a similar design to the fabric.

I also bought a couple packages of these buttons, a while back. I don't know what I'll do with them, but I know it should be A Special Project. The blossoms are so pretty; they remind me of Japanese art.

And last but not least, I have now purchased ten yards of stiff tulle! It was only 2 dollars per yard, and with a 50 percent off coupon we were able to cut the price in half again. I must admit, so much tulle in one place is quite a formidable sight.

 I shall use it to make the petticoat from the tutorial posted here on EGL by LJ user adriannrod (based on the petticoat in this article about 50s singer Alice Lon), and maybe my heavy two layer skirt will finally poof to its full potential! The new tulle  feels quite stiff and scratchy, so I might use my current, relatively-un-poofy petticoat beneath it. But I am quite looking forward to moving closer to becoming a dark, frilly cupcake.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Of clothing alterations and October's arrival

At last we return to October!--the one time of year when the rest of the world realizes that yes, indeed, "every day is Halloween." I hope to find suitably spooky and whimsical ways to celebrate this month, such as going to look for treasures among all the Halloween merchandise at places like Target, JoAnn's Fabrics, and thrift stores.
If any of you gothic-and-lolita types would like to read a really wonderful article on Halloween shopping, let me direct you towards the latest column by the Lady of the Manners, a delightful, gothy rolemodel of mine who writes an online etiquette and advice column for the spookily inclined, at Gothic Charm School. Some of you might know her better as cupcake-goth at LiveJournal--she posts sometimes in the EGL and Daily Lolita communities.

While we're on the topic of inspiration for making the most out of October, I urge you to visit Les Fleurs Noires, a wonderful loli blog of the gothic persuasion, by akumaxkami. The most recent, October-and-fall themed posts have already given me quite a few ideas.

So how am I celebrating October so far? Well, in the last few weeks, the wish to properly gothify and lolify my wardrobe has grown stronger than ever. And so a week or two ago, I sorted through my clothes to divide them into a) the "keeper" pile, b) the giveaway pile, and c) (most exciting!) the DIY pile.

Here's a snap of my closet as it is now (after the sorting process). I had to use flash, as my room is quite dark.

And here is the DIY pile! My first ventures into accomplishing said DIY plans will be chronicled later in this post.

Yesterday my sister asked if I had a spare corset top she might borrow for a special occasion, and what do you know! I have two. Moments like these make me feel legitimate as a Romantigoth, don' cha know?

Anyway, my favorite one (which I bought from Charlotte Russe a couple years ago) had frayed at the top of one of the tubes that the boning goes through, so that the plastic boning piece would work its way up and out every time I wore it. So yesterday I took a needle and thread to that, and was able to fix it very quickly. I used what I believe is called a whip stitch, so that the frayed ends would be covered by thread.

And now, it's almost as good as new! I can't wait to wear it again. I love the lace panels, and the lacing up the back. <3

I would like to incorporate this into a gothic and / or ero coordinate (worn over a blouse in the case of the former). Recently I tried it on with the skirt I made, and was pleased to discover that, of course,  a corset top takes a way the problem I've been experiencing of strange wrinkles in my blouses, just above the skirt. Hopefully the blouse I've been planning to make soon will have less of that problem, but until then...

Around this time last year, a family member purchased a very pretty Halloween-themed shirt for me, at Crackerbarrel. (For those of you who haven't visited the South in the US, that's a Southern-style restaurant chain which has a shop full of curios and knicknacks as its front portion. Until this semester I had attended college in Kentucky, so I had ample opportunity to visit Crackerbarrel.) Oh, and do excuse the pile of mail there in the corner.

As you can see (providing the picture isn't too small), the shirt is inscribed with delightful slogans like "Spooky," "Halloween fun," and "Ghouls Night Out" in the kind of delicate Gothic script that I love. I think this would make an excellent cut-sew, but it has languished in my "to be DiY-ed" pile until now. The three-quarter length sleeves are too tight at the openings and too loose at the armholes, and the shirt is too wide acress the bust (I have a very small bust and shoulders).

So I spent the morning unpicking one of the sleeves, and the other soon shall follow. I would like to see if I can use the sleeve fabric to make a short gathered sleeve, and I may change the neckline as well (not to mention fixing the fit of the shirt). And trim! You can never go wrong with adding silky black ribbon.

In case any of my sewing and possibly pattern-drafting lolitas out there were wondering, this is (apparently) what a sleeve-shaped piece of fabric looks like when you lay it out flat. The wider end is where the armhole was.

And lastly, here is Elf-tiger (Elfy for short), who was napping on my bed when I took pictures of the DIY pile.
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