Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Potters Cottage On Fletcher.

As an early Christmas present, James has taken the pair of us back to the Blue Mountains. And chilling here, feeling very relaxed and at peace and happy made me think that I ought to write up a bit of a recommendation for the cottage we stay at because it's a truly fabulous place.

The Potters Cottage is located at Wentworth Falls, a bit of a way out of the main township. It's tucked away behind the main house and surrounded by lovely lush gardens - today we encountered two gorgeous butterflies on the way to the car! The proprietor, Jim, is one of the hearty middle aged types who is absolutely delightful. He's friendly, welcoming and makes us feel right at home.

Stepping inside the front door [which currently sports a festive wreath] you walk past a washer and dryer into the kitchen, which has every darn thing you'll ever need to cook with, and have lovely views of the garden outside. And while I'm on the subject of the kitchen, it needs to be mentioned that your stay at the cottage includes tasty, tasty breakfast provisions.

From the kitchen you go into the living room. The walls feature a variety of art, except for the wall that is actually a lovely large door leading onto a little private patio and the wall that is a giant bookcase fill with videos, DVDs, books and a collection of nutcrackers. The couch is comfy, the TV is big, the clock is funky, there are two little stained glass windows and the gas fire with very warm. We convert the little dining table tucked into one corner into a computer desk. It's cozy and comfortable and I know it's a cliché term but it feels like a home away from home.

Up a half dozen stairs is the mezzanine bedroom with bathroom and closet off to the side. The bed is squishy, the bathroom is modern and the beside lamps are the cutest cherub thingies. There's another little table up on the mezzanine level, and a daybed as well. The most awesome thing is the skylight over the bed - you can lie in bed and watch the sky, which I find super restful.

I know this review has been mostly description, but basically this cottage is a beautiful place to stay. The lift a phrase from Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey that I'm reading right now, this place is "just nice enough that it felt special, and not so luxurious that [I feel] uneasy." It's perfect.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tutorial #1: Christmas Stars

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it's a good time to share one of my favourite decorations to make: three dimensional stars decorated in leftover wrapping paper. It's a fairly simple idea, so I'm sure someone else has had it as well, but it's something I figured out about five years ago. I haven't made Christmas decorations for a couple of years now, so it's been really great to get down and crafty again this year.

What You Need:
  • An assortment of wrapping paper
  • Thin cardboard [I sued a cereal box]
  • PVA glue
  • Thin ribbon
  • A smallish paintbrush
  • A pen
  • A ruler
  • Scissors
What To Do:

Step 1: Figure out how big you want your stars to be and draw it out onto your cardboard. I had a bit of a silly moment and forgot how to draw a symmetrical star, so mine turned out a bit wonky. Your star can have as many points as you want, I just prefer five pointed stars. And it goes without saying [but I'm saying it anyway] that you can apply this idea to any kind of shape you want. Circular decorations done this way would be a lot simpler to make and be just as cute. Cut out your first star. That's your template.

Step 2: Trace the star shape onto your cardboard as many times as you want, just keep in mind that since these are 3D stars you'll need two stars per completed decoration. Cut out all the stars, pat yourself on the back, and go get a cup of tea.

Step 3: Rip or cut your wrapping paper into little pieces. I love the effect ripping gives the decorations, but cutting looks a lot neater.

Step 4: Dollop out some PVA glue, draw a deep breath and start gluing the paper bits to the star. Don't worry about going over the edges of your star, because all you need to do is flip it over and wrap the excess over to cover the back side of the star. Easy as pie.

Step 5: Leave the stars to dry and then cover the other side as you did the first. Let them dry again.

Step 6: Get two stars. Cut one to the halfway point from between the two bottom points [if using five pointed stars] and the other to the halfway point from the centre top point.

Step 7: Attached a loop of ribbon to the topmost point of the star that is cut from the bottom. Clue, sticky tape, staples, whatever. Then slot the two stars together and voila!

Step 8: Go stick them on your tree and celebrate with another cup of tea.

PS Send me a picture if you make your own decorations in this method, I'd love to see!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Review #6: Bodyline

Recently we ordered a new yukata and some wristcuffs from Bodyline for the model wardrobe. And, naturally, while we were there I acquired a few more pieces for my lolita wardrobe in the form of two skirts and two JSKs. The packages arrived while James and I were on our little holiday, so it was something nice to come home to!

I haven't taken any of my own photos for the reviews these items because honestly the stock photos are very true representations of how they are in real life.

The Skirts

L276, m, pik

My thirteen year old self would shake her head. A pink skirt? With waffles printed on it? Shocking! I have a feeling this skirt is going to be something I love but don't particularly wear often. It's decently made like the other Bodyline skirts I have, the print it nice, and though it has a detachable bow it didn't come with waist ties for which I am grateful, because I'm starting to fill a drawer with detachable waist ties and bows. 

L314, m, sax

Can I just do a simple copy-paste of my ramblings about the previous skirt? This skirt is cute and decently made, and I just love the little ruffle and lace and bows at the bottom. Again, no waist ties and this time no bow. This skirt seems brighter in real life than it does in the stock image, but not eye-hurtingly so.

The Pros: Nice prints, sturdy construction, and no waist ties! Both skirts are true to size, and could maybe go a tad larger than what Bodyline says.
The Neutrals: A little shorter and less full than other Bodyline skirts.

The JSKs

L415, 2L, red

One thing the stock photo doesn't make obvious is that there is a slight glittery thread running through this fabric, and I like it! It's a very simple but cute dress. The skirt of it is incredibly full, the waist ties aren't detachable but the bow pictured at the waist is. It seemed quite roomy, as it should be as I'm at the middle of  the measurements listed. All in all it's adorable and I like it!

L501, 2L, red

This is my Christmas dress, or my "Sweet Party Time" dress. It is so damn cutesy! The red colourway is a favourite [obviously] but I think the brown is adorable too. It's a couple of inches shorter than knee length, so some may consider it too short but I love that it's a little shorter - Australian Christmases are hot. I think the measurements on Bodyline are a bit smaller than what this actually goes because my bust is a few centimetres larger [though my waist is in the measurement range] than the website says and though it's a close fit it's a good fit. The bow on the waist is detachable, the waist ties are not.

The Pros: It's all good ^__^

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Oppa steampunk style.

Op-op-op-op-op oppa steampunk style.
</pointless Ganganm Style reference>

I have a confession: steampunk makes me drool. It's a perfect mix of elegance and grunge, ranging from scantily clad gunslingers to head-to-toe circa 1800 style regalia. Steampunk photoshoots are so much fun, and I have photos to prove it. But such an over the top, prop and accessory heavy style can sometimes be hard to work into an everyday wardrobe without looking like you are wearing a costume. So here are my thoughts and ramblings on how to best steampunk your life, or at least, the fashion side of your life.

Feel Your Fabrics:

Picture yourself on the streets of London, 1889. What fabrics are the people wearing? The labourers  the housewives  the merchants, the militia, the servants of lords, the lords and their ladies? All their clothes would have been made from cotton, linen, wool, silk and leather - there had been experimentation with man made fibres since 1855, but synthetics were not yet prevalent by any stretch of the imagination. However, a variety of natural and chemical dyes were available so despite the trend in steampunk to stick to a neutral, earth toned palette that would not have been the case, especially amongst the wealthy.

So if you want to bring a bit of steampunk into your normal wardrobe, try to wear clothes in natural fabrics. And don't just see the word "cotton" and think of the normal, boring thin stuff you get in fabric stores. Moleskin, poplin, tarlatan and even velvet are made of cotton. Or bring a bit of good old tweed into your wardrobe. It can look a lot better than it sounds!

Steampunk Your Shirt:

T-shirts are like flags. They are a way of declaring your allegiance; be it to Team Edward, Metallica or Hello Kitty. And as steampunk continues its march into our fashion consciousness, steampunk tees are becoming increasingly easier to find. Wear them with jeans for a really simple look, or maybe for a bit more of a steampunk vibe try to use some more old style fabrics with the rest of your outfit like that tweed I mentioned earlier.

That's the wings on the back of my "Steampunk Angel" shirt. Pretty funky, aye? If your local shops don't stock enough steampunk goodness, try Threadless. They have many, many cool shirts in all different styles.

Adorn With Accessories:

One of the key things that turns simple Neo Victorian into fully fledge steampunk is how you accessorise an outfit. The top hat, goggles, skeleton keys, brassy octopus iconography, unique purses, fancy cravats, cogs turned into jewellery, maybe even a little handgun or a vintage spanner strapped to your airship mechanic belt. Even if you can't wear a fully steampunk outfit you can bring a little bit of steam into your normal outfits with the right accessories.

My favourite piece of steampunk jewellery is this necklace James made for me for a steampunk party we went to. He had a matching octopus tie pin. It was fun.

Hold Onto Your Hat:

A bit of a lead on from the previous point, this idea is quite a simple one - put something on your head! Headgear is not such a huge deal in mainstream fashion, but a top hat, bowler hat, tweed cap, or bonnet can really add steampunk flair to an outfit. Obviously this only works with certain wardrobe choices - a straw half bonnet [perhaps with brocade lining and a decorative skeleton key arrangement in lieu of flowers] would look sweet with a summer dress, but ridiculous with daisy dukes and a tank top. For the gents a simple cap in a period appropriate fabric could make even jeans and a collared shirt seem a bit less off the rack and more steamy.

Almost All Out:

The final option kind of flies in the face of my previous suggestions. They were all about incorporating smaller elements of steampunk fashion into a more conventional wardrobe. Now I'm saying that another way to wear steampunk without it looking like a costume is to do the reverse - put together a proper steampunk outfit, and then peel back the accessories and features that make it more "costume"-y. Keep the corset and long skirt, but ditch the parasol, the period appropriate bonnet and the cephalopod motifs. Keep the trews, neat shirt, suspenders and waistcoat, but leave off the top hat, the goggles and the cane.

Feeling ready to bring some steampunk into your everyday? Go forth and steampunk!

Oppa steampunk style!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

3 Lolita Outfits for $300

Recently a fancy new blogging thing called The Lolita Blog Carnival started up - I found out via Caro-chan of Fyeahlolita. The group is based on facebook and they decide on topics then on Friday the participating bloggers all post up their thoughts on the matter. The inaugural topic was to design one or more off the shelf lolita coordinates for $100. Though I'm not a member of the group, nor an active lolita as yet, I thought it was a really interesting topic and thought I would give it my own spin.

I tend to like doing my shopping all in one place, so I decided to create three looks using items from three websites: Bodyline, Etsy and eBay. However, I didn't include postage in the totals and you must forgive my somewhat shoddy Photoshop jobs - low resolution editing and I are not on friendly terms.


When you think cheap lolita, you think Bodyline. Or maybe taobao, but I haven't ventured there yet so I'm going to stick with what I know. So naturally it was my go-to site for this challenge.

Because I have a thing for this Alice print, I decided to run with the skirt version - mostly because it's cheaper than the JSK. After grabbing shoes, socks and blouse I couldn't accessorise without going over the limit. However, though it's under the blouse in my picture  the skirt actually comes with a detachable bow which could easily be made into a headbow if one used the few remaining dollars to buy a cheap headband and some glue. As the file was too small to photoshop easily, I sourced the headbow in the picture here.

Total: $94


When browsing Etsy I wasn't sure if there would be shoes within the budget, so that's what I started with. There were a surprising amount of adorable flats! When I saw these ones I figured it would be easy enough to put together a more casual sailor lolita outfit but I found after shoes, skirt and t-shirt there was little budget for accessories  Plain white tights would have left enough for a headbow, but the octopus socks were such a great touch I couldn't not include them!

However, the lack of accessories for a sailor inspired outfit can be easily rectified - some navy ribbon, brass buttons and something to hot glue them to and you have instant hair clips, necklace pendant or a brooch. Easy!

Total $102


This outfit was probably the simplest to put together. The hard part was choosing a cheap but nice dress - I'm fairly sure this one is actually Infanta, so it should be quite nice. After finding the ridiculously cheap shoes I thought I'd accesorise in a dark red to bring a bit more colour to the outfit. I love bargain hunting on eBay!

Total $81

This was actually a really fun and interesting challenge. Looking back at those three outfits they are all very different and none of the parts are really interchangeable but I could have modified them all [maybe by using the same blouse and shoes, for example] and been able to put together a small and simple but workable lolita wardrobe for around $250. Ah, the joys of online shopping.

Want to see other people's take on this? Have a list of bloggers who participated in the first Lolita Blog Carnival challenge:

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Review #5.5: Bodyline - The Others

My wonderful man recently bought me an absolute haul of lolita from Bodyline! Such a haul, in fact, that I have split my reviews into various sub-sections to avoid gigantic uber posts of doom. This is the last section about the "other" things I got; a skirt, some bloomers, a wig for the model wardrobe and one of their costumes.

L303, M, blk

This skirt is really, really cute! I was a little worried that it wouldn't fit, given that I'm at the upper end of the measurement provided and the Alice skirt I previously ordered had been a bit tight but it fits fine! The gigantic bow is fortunately detachable and will soon be turned into a headbow. The print is nice and clear, the lace is decent and all in all it's a well designed and well constructed skirt.

Pan028, sax

Pan031, blk-blk and wht

I am perfectly capable of making my own bloomers, but these were all so ruffly and so cheap! I have a very limited patience with sewing excessive ruffles. They are all a perfect fit verging on being a tad small so I would advise if you're at the larger end of the supplied measurements maybe give them a miss. But they are nicely made, the lace is decent, the fabric is soft and they are covered in a shit ton of ruffles. What more could you want?

Wig089, pik

This wig is really gorgeous. I don't have a lot of experience with wigs but this one is soft to the touch and hardly shiny at all, so I think it's pretty good. No photos because we couldn't be bothered putting it on me properly but it will feature in a photoshoot soon so follow our facebook page if you want to see!

Costume511, 4L

We bought a lot of costumes for the model wardrobe and one for me as well. It's quite well made, very sturdy and the fabric is quite thick - it's actually really warm and I'm trying to figure out how I could get away with wearing the jacket with an outfit without it looking like a cosplay. However, the detachable bow is all wonky for some reason. I can fix it, either with ironing or a few hidden stitches but it's weird - every other bow on my Bodyline stuff has been great! Also, the pleats in the skirt are stitches together loosely which is odd, but it actually looks really cool in this case so that's totally okay. All in all I think this costume is great.

The Pros:
  • All the clothes are sturdily made from decent materials.
  • The wig seems quite nice and is soft and not shiny.

The Neutrals:
  • Sewn together pleats are an oddity, but it works and if it didn't they'd take a minute to remove, so not a problem at all.

The Cons:
  • Wonky bow is wonky. Fixable but stupid.

Other sections:

Intro Post
Shoes and Socks

Review #5.4: Bodyline - Jackets

My wonderful man recently bought me an absolute haul of lolita from Bodyline! Such a haul, in fact, that I have split my reviews into various sub-sections to avoid gigantic uber posts of doom. This is the section about jackets. Originally only the vest was intended for me but I wound up with all wonderful three!

For some reason Blogger really doesn't like my photos of any of these garments but fortunately thee product photos are perfectly accurate so that's okay.

L470, 2L, win

The sizing of this is a tad odd - theoretically it was too small for me but in reality it fits fine and is even a little large! We bought it with the intention that if it fits, I get it and if not, it goes to model wardrobe and I am very glad it fits! I have a sneaking feeling that it will go rather nicely with the skirt of the outfit we got from Fanplusfriend...

P127, 4L

A simple, easy, comfortable vest that I think will work for lots of different styles and looks. There's honestly not much to say about this. It's neatly made, fits well and looks exactly like the picture. What the picture doesn't show, however, is that it actually works really well on your body.  And that's nice ^__^ 

P220, 4L

We bought this coat hoping it would fit James but he's too broad in the shoulders for it! So it's now mine, and I am glad of it. It's a bit on the costume-y side but it's well made, decent fabric and you only see a hint but it has a red satin-y lining which looks quite sexy. I can't wait to wear this but unfortunately it may have to stay in the wardrobe until summer has come and gone. So I'll have yet another reason to be excited about autumn!

The Pros:
  • It's all good. Not really any need from dot points but I like to be consistent. Decent fabrics, solid construction, nice designs. It's a win all round.

Other sections:
Intro Post
Shoes and Socks
The Others

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Review #5.3: Bodyline - Shoes and Socks

My wonderful man recently bought me an absolute haul of lolita from Bodyline! Such a haul, in fact, that I have split my reviews into various sub-sections to avoid gigantic uber posts of doom. This is the section about shoes and that classic shoe-accompanying accessories, socks!

Shoes271, 245, blk-owh

Given that I still wasn't sure what size I was exactly we decided to order this pair of shoes down from what was most likely my shoe size, 250. And given that we were accurate in our measurement of 250 these shoes were a tiny bit too small. They are really, really cute though! An odd detail that may not be noticeable in the product photos is that the tongue of the shoe is actually kind of ruffly. 

Shoes265, 250, blk-owh

Ridiculously cute? Yup. I was worried these boots wouldn't fit around my calves - my calves aren't unusually large but I was concerned that these would be made with thin legs in mind. But they are actually an absolutely perfect fit and really, really comfortable. They're actually a lot sturdier than I was expecting as well and I feel like they'll hold up well to wear. The photo I took of them was rather shoddy, but the original product photo shows them perfectly, so there's really no need.

Shoes257, 250, owh

These shoes are almost too cute for me! They fit perfectly and are comfortable and easy to walk in but my goodness they are unbearably cute! And they also scuff far to easily as I have already discovered. So I think they will be my last foray into white shoes because I don't like having to worry about my clothes overmuch. But still, they are wonderful, and cute, and if they get really scuffed I might see about getting one of my housemates to do a custom painting job. 

Socks425, sax


Socks412, blk and owh

Socks354, pik

All the socks are totally and utterly adorable, and quite good quality as far as socks go. However, the band at the top won't stretch enough to reach up to under my knees which is disappointing. I tried on the blue ones but the others have remained in their packets. Two pairs are going to my niece for her birthday and I'll figure out something with the others. It's a bit of a bummer, but given that they are a one size item from a Japanese website it's not really too surprising that they won't fit the legs of a Western girl on the larger side of average.

The Pros:
  • All the shoes are really good for the prices. They are definitely on par with equivalent quality shoes you'd pick up from a shopping centre and the details are really nice.
  • The sizing of these three pairs are very consistent - I've read sometimes that Bodyline has variable sizing but not with these shoes.
The Neutrals:
  • The socks don't fit my legs. But that's not entirely unexpected and I should have bought a test pair instead of several at once.

Other sections:
Intro Post
The Others

Reviews #5.2: Bodyline - Blouses

My wonderful man recently bought me an absolute haul of lolita from Bodyline! Such a haul, in fact, that I have split my reviews into various sub-sections to avoid gigantic uber posts of doom. This is the section for blouses ^__^

L474, 2L, blk

This blouse is really gothic or period depending on how you wear it. Which is awesome because it means I'll get a lot of photoshoot and costume use out of it as well as some lolita wear. The jabot and cameo are fortunately detachable, which to me increases the wearability of this blouse. It's decently fitted and sturdily made except for one tiny problem...on putting it on two buttons instantly came off! And when I tugged the rest to see how swell they were sewn on another two came off. Which is annoying. I'm going to make it into an opportunity to replace the buttons with something a bit fancier, maybe pretty silver buttons, but it's still not cool.

Without jabot.

With jabot.

L327, M, owh

This blouse is cute and comfy! I've tried it on today over skirts and under JSKs and it goes well with either. Since I'm taller than the model the blouse sits a fair bit shorter on my torso, but it's still long enough to cover the waist band of any skirts I wear. It's obviously made of some kind of synthetic and for lack of a better word feels a bit crackly but that will hopefully come out with washing. I may eventually remove the little bows as well, but for now they're cute enough.

L311, M, beg

This blouse is interesting. When I first saw it online I thought it was weird, but then I came to like it. Same in real life. It's definitely comfortable, well made and would be able to fit a range of body types. It's perfect to wear over skirts because of the shape but less perfect under JSKs because of the almost off-the-shoulder design. However I love having a blouse that is collarless. I know the collars are a big thing in lolita and I think they are adorable, but I like having a bit of both. And to further increase versatility the bow with the cameo is detachable...but after I removed it I couldn't tell which side was the front! As far as I can tell there is no set front or back. Like the previous blouse, this is made out of something that sounds crackly and feels a bit plasticy but as long as it comes out in the wash that's not a problem.

L009, 2L, bl-owh

Yes, yes. Black fabric and white lace is an ita staple and the bunny ears make it "worse". But it's really cute and is actually a perfect fit on me, except that the sleeves are a bit tight on the arms but that's solvable by undoing the buttons. It has detachable waist ties that will probably stay permanently off. I'm probably going to wear this nearly exclusively under JSKs to tone down the ita-ness and also with non lolita clothes for a bit of anime cuteness. 

The Pros:
  • Everything fits nicely! Which was kind of a surprise in the non-shirred blouses.
  • All sewing is quite sturdy...except those damn buttons!
The Neutrals:
  • The oddly crackly fabric is a tad odd, but we shall see what happens with a good washing.
The Cons:
  • Buttons that fall off. Fixable, but uncool.

Other sections:
Intro Post
Shoes and Socks
The Others

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Review #5.1: Bodyline - Dresses

My wonderful man recently bought me an absolute haul of lolita from Bodyline! Such a haul, in fact, that I have split my reviews into various sub-sections to avoid gigantic uber posts of doom. This is the section for dresses ^__^

L411, M, gre

This dress is greener than I expected...and I love that! It's lightweight, comfortable, pretty and makes me happy. It's fully shirred around the bust and waist and I think it could probably fit all the way up to 120cm [though don't quote me on that]. It has really thin detachable waist ties which I actually really like.

L136, 2L, blk

After buying the skirt in the blue I found myself lusting after the JSK in black. So we got it. It's a really cute design and a great fit on me, though the zipper seems to have a spot that it doesn't like passing. I do have to say though that I really dislike the buttons and the upper two bows. But that take around two minutes to fix and I bought this dress knowing I would be making those alterations so it's no big deal at all. The waist ties are sewn on so I may end up removing them as well, or at least converting them to be detachable.

L406, 2L, blk

I adore black and white stripes. It's been one of my favourite things for ages and I was really glad when Bodyline came out with this JSK because it meant I could try out lolita with one of my favourite colour and pattern combos! It's a great fit and nicely made - the solid black part is actually a complete attached underskirt rather than just a ruffly fake front panel. Due to this, and the fact that it's made out of a not-thin-but-not-exactly-thick fabric it's actually rather heavy. The lace seems to be nice cotton lace as well. I will probably remove the large bow because waist bows just don't do it for me and perhaps remove or modify the waist ties to be detachable, but other than that this is a really cute dress.

L497, 2L, blk

I was a bit on the fence about this dress when we were choosing what to get, but James liked it. And once again, I am so glad I listened to him! It's a little on the "drowning in lace" side, but it's really cute! The print is actually really gorgeous in real life and the colours are really vibrant. As with all the dresses in this post, it'a great fit, well constructed and nice fabric.  but the detachable bow is going to become a hairbow and I'll most like unpick the waist ties as well.

The Pros:
  • Lots of cute fabrics!
  • All dresses are well made with no noticeable construction flaws. 
  • They are all true to size and the website images.
  • Every JSK has two different strap lengths, which is handy.
The Neutrals:
  • None of the dresses are lined. I personally don't care but some people do.
  • Bow and waist tie removal required! But again that's entirely a personal opinion.