My First Photoshoot

How bout this for a throwback Thursday?  These pics are from my first EVER photoshoot!

Gold Renaissance Belly Dance Costume

If you have ever been curious about what I was making back in 2007 – here it is!

I made these renaissance bodices out of saris.  I had managed to find a small sari weaver in India who had a simple website with paypal buttons to sell their wares.  They had some seriously gorgeous metallic saris, for amazing prices. 

Renaissance Belly Dance Bodice

I’m not sure what became of them – sadly their website is no more.  I still have a few saris – I’ve been squirreling them away for personal projects.

Renaissance Belly Dance Costume Side
Renaissance Belly Dance Costume Front

The bodice and belt were reversible!  The other side looked like this:

Red Renaissance Belly Dance Costume

So when I switched the white skirt out for a red skirt, it became a whole new outfit.

Sitting in Red Renaissance Belly Dance Costume

I’m three months pregnant in these photos, lol.  You can kind of tell in a few of the poses, but I was really sucking it in!

Red Renaissance Bellydance costume at rocks
Belly dancer with light house

I haven’t designed anything reversible since this little renaissance vest.  I should totally bring that idea back sometime!

Renaissance Belly Dancer

Unseelie – Dark Fairy Queen Costume

Black and silver queen crown

I made this gown way back in 2015. Since then, it’s been part of my personal collection. I’ve worn it a couple times – once to a Labyrinth themed masquerade ball, and once to a fairy festival (with my sister wearing this dress, we cosplayed dark and light seelie queens.)

Black and silver queen gown

And it’s been on a couple collaborative shoots – but I hadn’t taken photos of me wearing it yet.

Black and silver queen Jacket

So when I found this burgundy wig from one of my wholesalers, I thought, let’s rectify this situation!

Black and silver queen crown

The setting in these photos is on the UCONN campus at Avery Point, in Groton CT. There’s this utterly gorgeous mansion there – Branford House, and as of yet, no one has minded me traipsing around the grounds getting photos!

Black and silver queen photoshoot

Do you like metallic fabrics? I love them! They are very difficult to work with, however! They also require special sewing techniques and extra time-spent in order to make them durable enough for my standards.

Black and silver queen back view
Black and silver queen costume

For those reasons, I have yet to make anything for sale in a metallic fabric. But – I’ve figured out some new things behind the scenes that will make metallic pretty things a possiblity for the future! Stay tuned. 😉

White and Silver Fantasy Queen

White Fantasy Queen Costume Side

Metallic fabrics… are utterly gorgeous, but an utter pain in the butt to work with!

So although I made this dress (and a black one just like it) a very long time ago, I’ve been holding off putting it for sale.

White Fantasy Queen Costume Bodice

These photos are from an event I attended way back in 2017. It was the “Emerald City” festival – Wizard of Oz themed, with a touch of inspiration from the the Emerald City show.

White Fantasy Queen Costume Front

I wore this look as my own version of Glinda the White witch. It was quite the fun cosplay!

White Fantasy Queen Costume Detail
White Fantasy Queen Costume Back

Announcing… Pre-Orders!

The face I portray to the world might be the queen of costumes – but privately, I’m a mom of two boys.  

Photo of my boys in a swing
My boys. This pic captures their personalities well – Technology obsessed Tristan, and JJ the ham!

It’s important to me to be there for them when they get out of school.  So I create all my pretty things from a home studio.

We’re looking for a house this year – but for now there is a challenge – all of my materials and in-stock costumes have to fit within a very small space!

I outgrew this space quite a while ago.  (Like, two years ago!)  I’ve been hanging on by my teeth by sewing a lot of custom orders – and trying not to have too much left over fabric and trim when I’m done with each of them.

I followed that path to its conclusion – which turned out to be very long hours, terrible hourly pay, a disorganized overstuffed workspace, and a lot of private frustration for me.

Overstuffed Stock Closet
Ikea shelving helps me fit pretty things from floor to ceiling in my cramped stock closet.

It led to me discontinuing custom orders.  But that introduced a big problem!  I can’t stock plus sizes (small studio, remember?) except on my most popular designs.

And if I had to choose my #1 priority – it would be making my pretty things available to as many people as possible.  If you are plus sized, believe me, you are the last person I want to exclude.

Also, there are some of my designs (full length skirts, for instance) that should really be made to your measurements.  The downside to using all that pretty lace at the hem, is you don’t want to be stepping on it!

I thought on it for quite a while, and came up with:

Pre-Orders

I’m working on starting an email newsletter.  That newsletter will contain (among other things) a secret link.  Each month, I’ll offer exactly one fabric and trim combination available for custom orders.  Usually it will be just one style that’s available – but I’ll offer choices in styles sometimes too.

This way I can continue to offer items made just for you – but in a way that doesn’t eat all my time!

2019 Year in Review

Do you like to set goals this time of year? I do, big time. I also like to spend some time thinking about the goals I set last year, and how well I did at accomplishing them.

And in doing so this year, I have come to the conclusion that 2019… sucked, big time!

I started 2019 on a high note – all fired up! 2019 was going to be the year that I finally figured this stuff out! Success, and dare I say, even a good hourly wage (if you know anyone who has a handmade sewing business, you know that’s the toughest part). All this would finally be at my fingertips!

Lol, I even channeled all that excitement into a bit of artwork:

Dream Big... And believe in yourself

Then came 2019, and (insert crash and burn sound here!)

If you’ve been following me for a while – you probably figured out that I’m an overwhelmingly positive person. Lol, to the point of delusional sometimes!

Therefore, I have no failures, only learning experiences. 😜

So 2019 was a great year, because I learned something important, and I even figured out how to make it happen in 2020…

So, I have bad news, and I have good news. Which do you want to hear first, lol? I’ll start with the bad news.

I am discontinuing custom orders.

If you’re one of the people who’ve been saving money for one of my custom made gowns, and planning to purchase in 2020, I’m truly sorry.

The lesson I learned in 2019 is this – if I want to add new things into my schedule – I have to cut something out! I have to stop thinking that I can just manage my time a little better or work a little harder – it doesn’t work like that. Custom orders are the most time consuming part of what I do. And even though the prices I charge seem (at least to me) rather high – when I divide it out by the time I spend on communication, ordering custom things, pattern tweaks, and sewing things one at a time – I’m earning below minimum wage on average for each custom dress. That isn’t a sustainable business model… 😬

So I’ve deactivated my custom made listings on Etsy, and I’m going thru my listings that have a custom made option one at a time, and updating them with the new information. It’ll take me a few days to finish.

Then when I’m done, I’ll be able to work on several new and exciting things. So without any further adieu, here’s the good news!

I’m starting a Youtube channel.

I’ve known this for a long time – I need to get my pretty things on video! There are so many things that can’t be captured in a photo – how things swish when you walk, the way that literally EVERY angle looks beautiful in one of my dresses, the complete head to toe transformation when we get ready for a photoshoot! And I think it will be a ton of fun too, once I figure out how to use the technology to make the videos. ^.^

Auralynne.com store coming soon!

…For real this time! I actually almost finished it last year. This year it’s HAPPENING. The store on my website will make it easier for me to keep track of what’s in stock, give you discounts when you order a full costume from me, and sell things I don’t make that all of you would love (like my corsets, and fun costume accessories.)

Newsletter coming soon!

In fact, you can sign up for it right now. I’m still working on my welcome series – and once I finish it, I’ll send it to you – and then there will also be a once-monthly newsletter from me, and a few subscriber-only perks too. You can sign up for it at the bottom of this post!

Are you excited? I’m excited. 2020 isn’t just a new year, it’s a new frigging decade! And it’s gonna be AWESOME.

 


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Black Steampunk Costume – Huntress

Do you like hoods?  I love them – and up to this point, I have made far too few of them, lol!

You probably recognize parts of this dress.  This is my “Belladonna” skirt – which I designed and first made waaaaaaay back in 2013.  It was my first ever Steampunk clothing design!

Since then, it’s been my alltime most popular skirt.  I’ve always offered a short-sleeved Gothic Victorian shrug to match it – but I’ve been trying to design and make a wider variety of styles this year.

So here is my “Steampunk Huntress” costume!

If I made this hooded shrug as part of my regular line, I’d make two small changes.  The first would be invisible!

You know how hoods like to slide off your head?  Unless a hood is lined with velvet or suede, it does this.  In the middle of this year, I had an epic idea to fix this.  All my future hoods will be trimmed, on the inside, with a bit of black velvet ribbon.  The velvet gives the hood just a bit of grip – so it won’t slip off.

The second change would be in the sleeves.  I like the way the ones in these photos look – but I think they would be just as cute if I made the shoulder and arm from one piece of fabric (the black rose jacquard).  I would still do the striped ruffle at the bottom, and the sleeves would take much less time (and thus be cheaper) made this way.

I made just one bolero like this, in size Small.  It’s posted for sale here (in my Etsy shop.)  Then the rest of the costume is posted here.

Thanks for reading!

What is Steampunk? The answer might surprise you!

What is Steampunk, really? I’ve seen a lot of definitions out there. And, for at least 5 years, all of them left me thinking that Steampunk wasn’t for me – until I finally attended a Steampunk festival. It converted me –  instantly – into a raging (let’s face it, rabid) Steampunker!

The thing is, I’d seen so much “Steampunk” over the years – and all that brown and all those gears – well, yes, it’s Steampunk, but it’s not REALLY Steampunk.  It’s not all there is to Steampunk.

Stereotypical Steampunk
Image by prettysleepy1 from Pixabay

Let me explain, lol. If I’m hanging out with someone brand new to Steampunk, and I’m asked to define it, here’s what I say:

“Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival? Do you know how, at a Ren Fest, you see people in historical costumes, but you also see fairies and elves, because, why not? And you see Medieval and pirates and belly dancers and all sorts of things because it’s all about having fun!

Now imagine that, but replace the Renaissance with Victorian.

It started with books. Sci Fi books with these amazing worlds based on the question, what would the world be like if the Age of Steam never ended?

People read these books, and their imaginations were so captivated that they wanted to see it! And so they created it, in magical pop up events around the world.

That is Steampunk.”

For years, I thought Steampunk was all gears and industrial looking accents, and all in shades of brown and ivory. And sure, that is your stereotypically Steampunk look. But – what Steampunk really IS, is this amazing community of artists that are all inspired by the Victorian Era, by steam powered technology, or just generally like to create cool looking things that fit in in a steam powered, Victorian inspired world! You can be a Steampunk, and have a wardrobe that does not contain a single item in any shade of brown. You can be a Steampunk, and have a massive collection of props that do not contain one single gear.

My first ever Steampunk convention was in 2014.  I wore this:

And I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb!  I was shocked when I realized that I fit right in.

The truth about Steampunk is, as far as inspiration goes, it’s very nearly a free for all!  The Victorian era lasted for quite a long time (1837-1901) – and most Steampunks also include the Edwardian era (1901-1910).  Aaaaand most people agree that Lovecraftian (H. P. Lovecraft, horror author and inventor of Cthulhu, the winged tentacled ancient god/alien being) ideas belong in a Steampunk universe – and those didn’t come out until the 1920’s!

That’s rather a lot of history – a lot of fashion, a lot of inventions, a lot of styles – to draw from, and combine with things from your own imagination.

What is Steampunk?  It’s a community.  That’s truly the best answer.  And communities are made of people, and we vary!  So while some of us are going to follow the ivory and brown exposed gears aesthetic – not all of us will!

So if you’ve been holding out on Steampunk because you like Victorian things but aren’t fond of the “Stereotypical Steampunk” you see everywhere – stop holding out and come join us!  😉 We’d love to have you!

Corsets 101 Part 8: Storage and Care

Chocolate, pizza sauce, wine…

Pizza and Wine (both things you don't want on your corset!)

All these things have their (delicious) place in life – but hopefully you can keep them off of your corset. If you failed at this task, however, have no fear. I’m here to help!

How to spot clean a corset

There is a product that I swear by, when it comes to caring for and cleaning my cosplay clothing. It’s Clorox 2 liquid. The image below (an affiliate link) will take you to purchase on Amazon – but you can get this at your local Walmart too.

I don’t know how many 50’s housewives they sacrificed to achieve this… 😉 But I swear, this stuff will remove the worst stains from white – while colors either remain unchanged, or look brighter afterwards!

I recommend testing a spot first to be safe. If your corset has a modesty panel, there is a line along the attached edge that will be underneath the grommets when you lace up. Take a toothpick, dip it in Clorox 2, and put a tiny bit in an inconspicuous spot. Let it dry for 30m to an hour, then keep wetting the spot with water and blotting it with paper towels. Keep repeating, and be sure you don’t have a bleached spot. If not, you are good to go!

You’ll need the following:

  • Clorox 2
  • A couple Q-tips
  • A bowl of water
  • Plenty of paper towels

When the stain first happens, if you can, get as much out as possible by blotting it with dry paper towels, wetting just the stained portion, then blotting again until it lightens. Before you start with the Clorox 2, get the spot as dry as possible. The magic seems to happen only when it’s extremely concentrated.

Use a q-tip to apply Clorox 2 just to your stain. Let it sit for 15m. If the stain is still there, apply more Clorox 2, and let it sit for another 15m. Repeat until the only added color in the spot is blue – up to an hour total. Remove the Clorox 2 by applying water to the spot with your second Q-tip, and blotting it out with paper towels. Repeat a butt ton of times, until the blue is gone and the water spot is barely visible. It should disappear once the corset dries all the way.

I’ve used this technique to remove a black ink stain from an ivory corset (as well as less taxing stains) – with perfect results.  It’s time consuming, but it does work!

How to Wash a Corset

My official recommendation: Don’t!  Corsets should be dry cleaned.  If you live near a big city, there may even be a dry cleaner who has experience with them.  You can call around and check.

Confession, however: I hand wash my own corsets.  One of these days, I plan to open up the banding on a couple of them that have been thru the process at least three times, and pull out the steel bones to see if I’ve ruined anything using my technique.  If I find no rust, I’ll post a tutorial outlining the process.  It is a rather long undertaking – and requires owning some specialized equipment (namely, a tailor’s ham designed for ironing sleeves) – but the end result is a corset that looks and feels brand new.  If and when I post the tutorial, I’ll update this post with a link.  🙂

Best Storage Practices for Corsets:

If you wear your corset on a warm day (or if you sweat a lot on a cold day) be sure to air it out before putting it away. Flop it over the back of a chair (with laces spread wide so the modesty panel can breathe too) and put it away the next day.

It’s best not to wrap the laces around the corset when storing it. It will sometimes leave random weird looking dents in the waist area, and I’ve heard it isn’t good for the corset either. If you buy a corset from me, it will come with a fabric storage bag, like this:

The bag included with each of my corsets.

Rather than simply stuffing the corset in the bag, I recommend lacing it up first. Fold the strings, then fold the corset around the strings, and put it inside the bag. The bag will keep the corset safe from other items, and your other corsets if you store them together. If you’re packing the corset for a trip, it will also keep the corsets busk and/or any hardware from messing up any of the items in your bag.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed my Ultimate Guide to Corsets. If you think you may have missed one of the parts (there are 8!) you can access each via the links below.

Part 1: History

Part 2: Types

Part 3: Real Corsets

Part 4: Anatomy of a Corset

Part 5: Pattern Matters

Part 6: Sizing

Part 7: Comfort

Corsets 101 Part 7: Comfort

Every time I go to a Steampunk Festival, I see T-shirts that say something like this:

“Boots First, Then Corset”

And I wish I had my own T-shirt that says something like this back at them!

“A pro can put them on in either order.”

Here are my best tips on how to wear a corset like a pro!

How to be able to move while wearing a corset

  1. Get a corset that fits you properly.
  2. Don’t lace it too tightly at the chest. Because breathing is important.

That’s it! To illustrate, I took a few pics. I chose the most heavy duty corset I have. It’s double steel boned (with two spiral steel bones along each seam), weighs just shy of 2 pounds, and is about 3/8 of an inch thick along the boning channels. I’m laced pretty aggressively. Right now my natural waist measures 32 inches, but me plus thick corset measures only 26.5 inches around in these photos.

So here are a few photos showing what I can still do while wearing this crazy heavy corset. I’m not particularly flexible. (Exercise, bah!) But most everything that I can do uncorseted, I can still do while corseted.

Sitting cross legged in a corset

I can sit cross legged.

Picking up goggles while tightlaced

I can pick things up off the floor.

And yes, I can put these amazing boots on. If you follow all of my tips, you’ll find that corsets can be surprisingly comfortable!

Sitting pretty (and comfortably) while tightlaced in a corset

Corset Lacing Tips

Since I design and sell corsets, it made sense to put the corset lacing tips with my store! So if you have a corset, and you’re trying to figure out how the heck to get the thing on, please head over to the guide in my FAQ. 🙂

How to Lace a Corset by Yourself


Corset Comfort Tips

Most corsets require seasoning, or breaking in. This is less true with my hourglass corsets (they mold to your form very quickly.) But typically, to be sure you are comfortable at your event, it’s a good idea to wear the corset for an hour or two per day, for several days before your event. Also if you are wearing a corset (like the silver one I wore above) that reduces your natural waist more than 4 inches, I really recommend waist training prior to the event (Wear the corset or a training corset for a few hours each day, to accustom yourself to the feeling.)

A thin spaghetti strap tank top (like the ones in my affiliate link above) will save your life. You wear it underneath your corset with the straps tucked inside. A V-neck is best for not showing – or, pull it down really far before putting on the corset.  Why? Several reasons:

  1. Laundry day sucks. And corsets are a ROYAL pain to clean. But tank tops absorb sweat and are easy to clean.
  2. The tank top adds an extra layer between your bones and the corset’s bones. It’s a bit more comfy that way.
  3. When all done with your event, it’s quick and easy to go fishing for straps, take off the corset, and SLOUCH.

Tips for car travel in a corset

If you need to ride in the car to get where you are going, “car-tighten” your corset. That is, lace it just tight enough that it won’t fall off. It’s uncomfortable to wear a tightly laced corset in the car, and you can tighten it when you get there. We are cosplayers. We own our right to get dressed in the parking lot. 😉

Speaking of getting dressed in the parking lot… If I’m traveling to an event more than an hour away, I’ll leave the corset in the back of the car until I get there. Which is reason #4 for the tank top!

Things not to do

Never unhook the front of a tight corset. Loosen the laces first. Unhooking a tight corset causes undue wear and tear in the busk area, and can cause stitches and even fabric casing to tear over time. This is also true with swing clasp closures – although to a lesser extent.

Friends share everything except corsets

Your friends will love you if you let them borrow your corset… But you might not love your corset quite as much when you get it back! Letting friends borrow a corset, in my experience, seems to be the number one easiest way to make it go crooked. We’re all shaped slightly different, and most people have torso shapes that are asymmetrical in some way. The corset molds to your form over time. If worn by someone else it will try to mold again to their form – and then when you get it back, it will need to mold to your form again. The process winds up being quite hard on the corset. So just a tip – if you reserve your corset collection for your own use, each corset will last you a lot longer.

And those are my best tips on how to be comfortable while wearing corsets. Coming next week – Part 8: How to care for a Corset!