Most girls get their first ‘bras’ when they’re around 12 or so, and they’re training bras – basically soft sports bras to get girls used to the idea of wearing something on their chests constantly. I won’t get into the debate about whether bras are really necessary or just a thing forced on women by the patriarchy, but I will say that I am usually straddling the fence on the issue. They are annoying but useful. Nuff said.
Some bright spark recently decided to make ‘bralettes’ a thing. This bright spark is probably now rolling in it, if they weren’t before. Generally, these type of trends come from stylists/brands/fashion houses so they already have mucho cred. Back on topic. Bralettes are basically soft bras – usually made of lace as is the current trend – with no underwire, structure, or padding. The idea is to have soft, form-fitting undergarments, that both conform to societal standards (by covering those abhorrent lady nipples from view *shock horror*) and provide comfort and ease for the person wearing them (yes, person. Many non-females also wear bralettes. That is a separate topic). Continue reading “FULL SCALE #5: Lace Bralettes”→
‘fitspo‘ – an abbreviation of the portmanteau ‘fitspiration‘ meaning something that inspires or motivates the desire to be fit and healthy. For many people, this is usually a celebrity on Instagram, or a personal trainer or even a friend or loved one who is healthy and exercises a fair bit.
This issue is a tough one for me. The idea of ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’ is a bit of a double-edged sword. Well, most swords are double-edged, right? I mean there’s no blunt side? I digress. Growing up in Sri Lanka, the idea that being slim was good and healthy was something difficult to grasp. My sister, like my parents in their youth, has a high metabolism and struggled to put on weight for much of her teens and 20s. She also has beautiful long hair and clear skin. All of which combined to be ‘good’. I used to look at her wish to be just like her. My mother commented once how she noticed I was withdrawn as a teen – I stepped back a bit because I compared myself to her and didn’t like what I found. Doesn’t help that mother always noted how lovely she was in her youth (she really was. She still is. #goodgenes). Our culture also prizes ‘fairness’ of skin, so exercising outside in sun wasn’t seen as good or healthy as the tendency to tan was too high and could ruin a complexion. Luckily for my sister, she is already darker skinned.
Here’s where the issue is. I have recessive genes -so while I am fairer skinned, I have curves, thick unruly hair (which thankfully I can wrestle into place now), and easily blemished skin. I was always too big. To those who know me, this is a hard idea to wrap their heads around. But this was and always will be my base programming. I was always too big – too much belly, too much butt, too much everything.
I was an energetic kid, always bouncing around causing trouble. But once puberty hit, that just wasn’t enough. I started dancing lessons at age 7 (very late in dance years). And something clicked. A light flicked on in my brain and even now, this is when my body is most comfortable, and I am most comfortable with it. As I grew older, dancing became more intensive, and it wasn’t til I moved to Sydney for uni that I realised exactly how helpful it was in keeping my ‘too big’ self in check. My mother still says that if not for my dancing, I would be massive. Because apparently, there’s something wrong with that.
I remember doing athletics in school – by doing athletics I mean I ran in some 100m and 200m races and relays for athletics meets, and the distance runs for the school road race. I didn’t do too badly either. I guess I just like to keep moving. And I’ve got a helluva stubborn determination when needed. How else do you think I get anything done? Sheer willpower. No joke.
I started circus when I came to uni. I was too shy to join a dance group but the idea of a group of ‘social outcasts’ appealed to me. Sadly, it wasn’t as welcoming as I’d hoped but I stuck with it. 6 years and two relationships later, I finally found my groove. I needed to understand ‘me’ before understanding how this ‘me’ interacted with others.
Being fit and healthy isn’t about being the skinniest person in the room, and I sad to say that it took my 25 years to fully understand that. It also took me almost as long to accept that I wasn’t actually that big in the grand scheme of sizes. I’m 160cm (5’3) and weigh anywhere from 52-56kg. That’s tiny. Practically minuscule to some. Jesus. Hell, I probably weigh more than that, but it is very likely that some of it is muscle. See, when I ‘found my groove’, I trained. I started to get myself out of a rut and start learning things my way. So even if I took longer than others, and didn’t quite follow a set path, I worked at it. I started to build up more muscle, I started to train with people, I got myself some more gear, and people started to help me and take me seriously. But I had to help myself first.
It didn’t quite hit me until someone called me ‘tank’. Someone thought I was strong. And not some random either, someone who was training with me. Me. Strong. And that felt so much better than someone saying I was skinny. The idea of ‘skinny’ makes you feel small and like you fit in with society. ‘Strong’ makes you feel capable, dependable, reliable, and I like the idea of those so much better. I carry things. I open jars. I move heavy stuff. I am useful, and that, if nothing else, is really what every human wants to be.
Creating ‘activewear’ or exercise clothing can be daunting. I wasn’t very experience with sewing lycra or much stretchy stuff before this. And this stuff had to work. It had to work hard and be able to take the punishment. I work my lower body hard sometimes and have popped seams on leggings and ripped open tights before. Yes, I can repair them, but it is nice to be able to make a good quality product the first time around. And yes, I sew my SEAMS with a zigzag stitch. Unlike all you straight-stitch-using heathens. I do this for most, if not all, fabrics. Deal.
I am a dancer. I always will be. But grace and movement are allowed to be associated with strength and power – being strong isn’t about being muscular and beefed up. Different workouts give you different muscle types, and the types I had founded in my youth lean themselves very well to my newfound exercise methods.
This was the second time I was working with supplex. The shorts below were the first. Supplex is awesome. Ridiculous stretch capacity, hardworking fabric, and surprisingly easy to sew. Pressed well, cut well, sewed and turned out neatly. Very pleased with this. I need to fix up the waistband elastic though, as it isn’t as secure as I would like it to be. But these turned out great. Cheaper than the $60 NIKE ones I saw H.Bean wearing sometime back.
I have to come accept that it is OK to say that I am a circus person. A circus performer even. I hoop. I do acro-balance. I also do fire. I can paint faces, make balloon hearts, and appreciate the art of juggling (even though learning it holds no appeal). I am allowed to belong to this community. I train in my own way and I am not as fit or strong as many others around me, but that is OK. I am still fit, and healthy, and yes, strong.
Oh my god, galaxy. Can this trend die already? I am fed up. Really fun to paint though. This was my first foray into supplex, but not into galaxy painting. Supplex is a high density, stretch lycra-type fabric. It is synthetic and feels cool to the touch, but is much thicker and has a denser weave than standard lycra. Sews like a dream. These have a fold-over waistband, and I am way more pleased with how this turned out than the elastic waistband. And the paint is super easy. 5 colours, bit of glitter, and hey presto, galaxy. There’s a matching cotton top. 3/4 sleeves. Nuff said – it was for a small performance. Don’t judge me!
I still look at other people and feel down – my ridiculously skilled and disciplined friends, my training buddies, random people I meet, hell even dudes on Tinder – but the important thing is that I can pick myself up now, and find my own way to keep fit. Even if it’s slow or disjointed, at least I’m moving. And to me, that is most important.
#stretching #lunge #fitspo Orange/black stripe lycra with black lycra lining and wide elastic waistband.
Gah. Does my butt look big in this? Yes. Yes, it does. But that’s cool. This print is the bomb. Got a huge remnant roll on sale and still have so much left. This is standard weight 2-way stretch lycra, and I lined with simple 2-way black stretch lycra – that’s what the cuff bits are – I don’t like those. This also has an elastic waistband, though it seems to be holding out more. The lycra, unlike the supplex, does not squeeze me in as much so my belly flops around; but it is super skintight and feels like a compression suit which is awesome for exercise.
So after all that, who do I tag for #fitspo or #fitspiration – my friends and fellow circus people inspire me constantly; they motivate me to try things and be creative. But really, I’d tag #fitspo on myself. Me. Small, confused, barely keeping it together sometimes, and brimming with potential energy. Because when I achieve something, however small a fitness goal it may be for someone else, I amaze myself. I continue to be awed and inspired by what I can achieve, and if I can keep achieving and feeling that awesome positivity, then hell, son, I’m going to keep trying.
Yeah, it’s a bit pretentious, but hey, haven’t you heard? You’re allowed to like yourself now. Modern times and shit. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t expect someone else to.
Note: I’m trying a new thing with how I describe the clothes I’ve made. I like to include some stories with my posts but this one may have gotten out of hand :/ I am not sure if this style is going to stay – it depends on how I am feeling at the time.
One week ago (it’s still Sunday right now!) I went to the last day of SUPANOVA Sydney 2016. I’ve been to SUPANOVA before – back in ’08 – but never in costume and never as a proper nerd/geek. I’m not a high-intensity super nerd, nor am I a fully fledged comic book geek. But I am invested in my fandoms, and currently I am very invested in both the MCU and ‘Stucky’ (I do not care what you say, Stucky is awesome).
I like making things and I have experience making costumes, and when my friend Sophie asked me to accompany her to SUPANOVA, I decided why not. I took forever to choose a costume and then it hit me. I hate talking to people, I like being menacing, and this costume wouldn’t need any race-bending – not like much skin was being shown anyway. As far as cosplay goes, this one’s very modest.
So, after much blood (yes, I cut my finger), sweat (not so much, it is winter after all), and tears (only in my mind), I give you Rule 63 Winter Soldier. Yes, Winter Soldier. Not Bucky Barnes. As much as I like Bucky, Zimniy Soldat allowed me to glare and people and not talk to them.
*Rule 63: the rule that for whatever the character, there exists an opposite gender variant.
**That shield is not mine – it belongs to Action Reaction Entertainment.
OK. Now let’s get real crafting nerdy. I’m going to break this down into parts to properly explain how things were made. I don’t have photos of the individual bits sorry.
JACKET: I bought this at Vinnies for like $12 and it was off-white with some blue patches. Kinda cool actually, and it’s denim which gives it the nice structural shape and good rough texture. It took 1.5 cans of spray paint to get it black.
MASK: This is a standard plastic white face mask from the dollar store. Sprayed black, cut in half and had the upper half glued onto the lower half. The neck portion is a piece of ribbed lycra sewn into a tube and then glued to the inside of the mask. Need to add air-holes – was a bit hard to breathe.
ARM: Right, the arm. Before spraying the jacket, I tried it on, traced out the arm pattern, cried a bit internally (because I hate ‘ruining’ clothes) and cut it off. Then I painted it silver (paint + sponge), and attached two loops of elastic (1 inch wide). This is important – they loop around my chest and shoulder to hold the arm in place and to give me some support. They get quite constricting after awhile so I may have to adjust it for future cons.
The metal plating is actual metal. Sheet Aluminium (Bunnings) and contact adhesive – that stuff is GOLD. I traced out the design on paper, drew it onto the metal and used tin snips to cut them out. Sheet aluminium is fairly flexible so it curves and bends easily and can be made to hold a shape. What’s hard is clamping it in place for drying. Lucky I had Sophie to help bend this into shape and glue it on. Once the plates were on, I filled the gaps with smaller plates, repainted the gaps with silver paint and whacked a great big red star on. The star’s too high and the plates aren’t quite right but I’m happy with how it turned out.
This is a long post. I also made Sophie’s costume for SUPANOVA – my #firstevercosplaycommission ! She chose Asuna from Sword Art Online (SAO), and I’m really happy with how it turned out!
*Sophie made the sword.
Another breakdown. This costume was tough. None of the parts were standard so it needed some creative fiddling.
SKIRT: This was the easiest. That said, I hate box pleats. They are awful and a pain but look really cute. This has an elastic waistband and is very simple.
CAPE-DRESS-GADGET: Lord. Why. The lower cape is a simple half-circle. The rest was cut as one piece and that actually worked out well. It ended up super tight due to the super long zip, but it balanced out with the room around the neck. The awkward shape of the bottom was complicated and bias-ing this edge was a nightmare. Sophie also drew the pretty silver designs because at 3am, I was not having it.
SOCKS: They’re socks. I sewed some ribbon on. Cute.
SHOULDER STRAP GADGETS: These were cut out of interfacing, ironed down onto the back of the red fabric, and then cut out. They have gold stitching on the edges which isn’t visible here.
BELT: It’s a belt. A long piece of white with silver bias along either side.
GARTER: You can’t see it, but I made a very simple yet successful garter to hold up the socks. You can get garter clips and lingerie elastic quite easily in most fabric stores, and the soft lace we got for the top was stretchy and comfortable.
This was a big success for me. I am pleased, Sophie is pleased, and many many people at the expo loved it and took pictures! 😀
Long blog. Here are some more pictures from SUPANOVA. I had an amazing time and am hoping to update the Winter Soldier costume for Oz Comic Con in September. If any of you show up, look for me!
I am a huge Totoro fan. This was a terrible Totoro, but at least he was friendly.
This is dude has got to be the cutest Cap ever. Apparently, he bought the costume and had it altered to fit. Really friendly, very adorable. Can’t seem to find him on Instagram to tag him. 🙁
So. A very long post. Thanks for getting to the end. Leave some comments, and let me know what you think.
Photos by me and Sophie. Or Sophie and I. Whatever. Deal.
I have a love-hate relationship with buying fabric. While I am obsessed with the look and feel movement of fabric, I get super irritated when I don’t understand it’s make-up/weave/structure.
It is also irritating when people think I don’t know anything about fabric. I like learning about the different types and sub-types of textiles, as well as what they are used for. Just because I sometimes use fabrics for things that they are not normally used for is neither here nor there.
The majority of my fabrics, accessories, and haberdashery are sourced from a store called The Remnant Warehouse. As the name implies, they deal with a lot of factory and designer remnant rolls and as such have a wide array of textures for your choosing. They have a separate dance/performance fabrics section which, I kid you not, is shiny as fuck. Like a pretty rainbow of sequins and textures.
The staff here is awesome. They are heaps friendly, and despite being very busy, they are happy to help. Unlike other fabric stores which seem cold and clinical, the fact that they are practically overflowing with stock makes it seem warm and exciting. Everything is also labelled clearly, and the fact that they almost always have something on sale doesn’t hurt either.
My favourite has to be the Tuesday sales (buy 1, get 1 of same or lesser price for free) on the remnant rolls outside. They also have a mind-blowing amount of zips in a veritable rainbow of colours. Really. Legit. Many colours. And mini lycra remnant rolls in cool patterns and textures.
Try them out. Follow them on social media. You won’t be disappointed.
Hey, I might even meet you there.
The Remnant Warehouse: 494 Botany Road, Alexandria, Sydney.
I like kimono cover-ups. Not the traditional Japanese clothing, but the festival fashion spawned summer cardigan thing. They are super comfortable.
I’m not one for runway trends and season must-haves. I make a lot of my more interesting clothes so my wardrobe is definitely not going to have many super polished, professionally made stuff. But kimonos are legit cool. And 1970s inspired laid-back chic is very appropriate for Australian summer. And apparently bang on trend.
They are also shockingly simple to make. Two simple folds, three major cuts, seam, hem, press, and embellish. Done. Half an hour.
The first kimono I made only has fringe embellishing on the sleeves because I didn’t buy enough. But this fabric is a beautiful corded chiffon with an amazing black and white tropical fern print so yeah.
The scariest part was opening up the front, but once that was done, everything else was easy. This is also some fairly neat sewing on my part. The seams and hems are very tidy and well pressed. They are still laying flat over a year on from making, and nothing is coming apart.
There’s something about floaty sleeves and tropical prints that is uplifting.
I cannot remember which of these came next but this one is a long kimono – it goes down nearly to my knees if you count the fringe. It also has fully fringed edges, meaning both sleeves and bottom hem. Another light chiffon fabric, the print is what caught my eye. The colours and starbursts are exciting and the contrast fringe really pulls it all together.
This one is my second favourite, though I really shouldn’t love one piece more than another. This is a shorter kimono in a beautiful ocean blue silk chiffon. The tropical print once again makes me happy, and the odd, stiffer fringe
is an interesting detail. I seem to pick some weird colours when I really want a contrast. But this works well, and the silk chiffon is cool to wear in the summer heat. Warning: crushes easily. See pic.
This last one is more recent. Made at the end of last year, it is free of embellishments, allowing the gorgeous print to stand out. Another chiffon, this kimono is butterfly sleeved, which gives it that beautiful drape when it sits. The colours too are incredible, and the ‘jungle roar’ style print makes me happy.
So yeah, kimonos. Heaps cool, heaps comfy, and heaps easy to make. Make heaps. Stay cool.
I like skirts as much as the next girl. I like the freedom and the breezes, but they are not training conducive, and I like to lead a somewhat active lifestyle.
This ‘poodle skirt’ inspired 50s style full circle skirt is the second major thing I sewed so it is a couple of years old. The converse are a cute styling nod to the era without being too retroactive.
Very fun and the bright colours are vibrant and joyful. Yay joy.
It is knee length and unlined but floats around magically when I spin and is ridiculously amazing. I used a stark wide black elastic for the waist as I did not understand zippers at the time. I only just understand them now, after having sewed tons of them. F@#%ing zippers.
Clothes I make though, make me happy. Most of the time. Unless they’re wrong. Then I will fuss and fix until they do make me happy.
Photo taken by the lovely Kim Brewster back in 2012/2013. Our local neighbourhood is pretty.
Also, check out this amazing circle skirt app by By Hand London that I found. It is super handy and saves you time and brain power. Maths man, ain’t fun.
There’s a feeling of security you get when surrounded by water. To some, islands bring a sense of isolation, but for me they offer a sense of liberation – drifting on the sea on a piece of land.
I grew up on a small tropical island amidst a civil war, late 90s pop culture, and a not-so-conservative family. I was the odd duck in a family of slightly-less-odd ducks, with a weird complex about skin, size, and aesthetics. Later, I migrated to a much bigger not-so-tropical-but-batshit-insane island which, while having a similar population size, had a very different culture.
The first time I sewed something, I was 4 turning 5, and I sewed two pieces of card together with yarn to make a photo frame. My posh private girls school taught us sewing in ‘Home Science’ classes – we were to be proper ladies. The sewing lessons continued until I changed schools where a more modern curriculum did not see the need to teach such things. I didn’t really sew again (or make anything) until I had finished university and was roped into helping make costumes for a revue. My friend Megan showed me how to sew a straight line and that was it. I began following YouTube DIY channels, trying random craft ideas, and helping out with more shows to gain more experience.
2012 was a turning point. I got out of a bad relationship in a difficult manner and stuff was in the air. But I had friends who made me do things, and I began taking training and creating more seriously. I borrowed a sewing machine off a friend and have not stopped since.
I make clothing, costumes, home décor, paper crafts, ceramic craft, headpieces, props, and paint pieces. I train circus with a community group and make costumes for performances, gigs, parties, parades, and general fun.
Life often feels like it’s going nowhere for me, but this why I like islands. When you get to the sea, you find the island has ended, but if you turn and follow the coast, you might find something new. Things end, but new things are always beginning.
When life gives you lemons, make them into something else. Not lemonade. Lemonade is boring. Maybe lemon flowers – less useful, but cool to look at. Just try.
Hi. I like islands, sewing, and making magical experiences out of nothing. See the things I make. Maybe one day, I make for you. Maybe. No promises.