Cat Selfies

I’ve been bored as hell the last few weeks, and burnt out from trading off work and childcare. To help cope, I’ve been trying to take cute pictures with my cat. Usagi, named after Sailor Moon, is 16 now and even more grumpy than she was when she was young, but I love her to pieces.

She loves me too, most of the time. But she had zero interest in pictures. I tried a couple times over the last week, and each attempt sucked worse than the last. At least these are funny.

A series of bad pictures with my cat.
From disinterested to wanting snuggles to “I will ruin your dumb picture” in three images.

Wednesday Already

This week has gotten away from me. This happened less often before the apocalypse began, but nowadays I have trouble telling days apart. I’m basically always tired and unmotivated to do much of anything outside of parenting in the mornings and working in the evenings. I am so beyond burnt out at this point that I can barely see straight.

That being said, I’m trying to do little stuff to keep myself calm and happy. I spent an hour yesterday cutting out pattern pieces to try to figure out a corset pattern for Carmilla. I’m also trying to organize all my cosplay stuff into a nifty planner. Anytime I start to feel crappy, or like I have no control over the world around me, organizing something that I can control helps. Once I get my cosplay organizer done, I’ll put some pictures of it up.

Maybe by then it’ll be Wednesday again.

Wild Rabbits

Easter came and went while I wasn’t paying attention. Or I guess, more to the point, as part of the constant slow march of days that I’ve lost track of. It faded into the background of “ye olde end times” and I kind of missed it.

But I’ve been thinking about rabbits and other animals as part of my Pugmire map making fun. I’ve been reading source books about anthropomorphic dogs and cats, so how animals would act in a human-like society has been on my mind.

And to put these two random tangent thoughts in some semblance of order, I give you this picture.

An advertisement for some collectable bunny figurines.
Bunny Land

I think it was from an old Pier One catalog around springtime and Easter. I found it saved in my photos and had nearly forgotten it existed. And it’s a crazy thought exercise, because if these rabbits exist in a society, it is one wild place. At first I thought they were working under DuckTales rules, where pants are sort of optional and no one really makes an issue out of it. There is one rabbit wearing pants in the picture, but that could still work. That could be crazy Uncle Frank with his pants on. Or maybe pants are only necessary when you’re riding a bike? For safety, I guess? It’s weird, but that didn’t break my suspension of disbelief for this magical rabbit land.

But then there’s that bunny in the middle who only has a bow on. And there’s no way to explain that away. All the neighbor rabbits have to be scandalized by that one. There’s Susan again, laying naked in the yard with just that big pink bow around her neck. Really, the nerve of some rabbits.

And that is how my brain works when I’ve been stuck in the house since before Easter.

Small Victories

The days are still blending together for me, but I’m less exhausted. Just a little less exhausted, but even that is something.

I’ve been working on a map in Photoshop. I’m a huge nerd for tabletop rpgs, and I have two of the Pugmire source books that I’ve been dying to run a game in. Sadly, the maps in the books available so far have maps of specific areas, but not a full world map. So I’ve been trying to make my own. It’s going well so far, but I wanted to draw some dotted lines to mark country/kingdom borders. I never knew how to do that in Photoshop before. I could do a straight dotted line with a pattern fill, but if I wanted a curvy dotted line, I had no clue how to do it.

And now I know. A half hour of google searching and video tutorials coupled with finding menus in Photoshop that I did not previously know existed, and I’ve got my fancy curving dotted lines. Before the end times, I probably would not have been that happy about it. But right now, every little piece of joy, however small and silly, is really exciting.

A map drawing in Photoshop
My sexy curving dotted lines. The difference in weight was not intentional, but I kind of like it. Also, I didn’t save one of the paths, so it’s stuck like that now.

The Continuing Apocalypse

This last week has sucked. I am running on vapors at this point and have zero patience left. I’ve been taking care of my son from 7am until 1pm, trying to get stuff done around the house until 2pm when my kid inevitably wakes up early from his nap, then working from 3pm when my husband comes on childcare duty until I crash at night, usually around 9 or 10pm. It’s taking a toll on me, mentally and physically. I want to feel lucky to have a job that I can work from home, and to still have an income. But I don’t feel that way. I feel exhausted, and I don’t know how I’m going to sustain this much longer. This is untenable, and I’m tired. I’m tired of losing my patience with my kid because I’m in pain and out of energy. I’m tired of getting emails from the company I work for telling me how valued I am as an employee while also saying they definitely can’t give us leave to assist with childcare because it’ll hurt their bottom line. I’m tired of working late into the night so some CEO can make an extra million this year. I’m just tired.

I’m taking a few hours off today. I have a migraine, so I’m going to go sleep and try to pretend the world isn’t collapsing all around me. Maybe things will be better when I wake up.

Day 40

I think I kind of did it!

I posted for 40 straight days, more or less, and am finally at the goalpost. I’ll probably add one last post tomorrow, since I… ahem… missed that one day. But then I’m going to switch to a more reasonable and sustainable posting schedule. I think this helped though. I’m definitely in the habit of writing more.

Since it’s also Shiba Sunday, here’s an adorable picture of my dog in her favorite spot on the couch.

Shiba trying to sleep

Something Old, Something New

Something borrowed, something… bright fluorescent red?  Yeah, that saying isn’t holding up.  

I started brainstorming how I was going to make the structure for my Carmilla project.  Namely, the undergarments. I’m trying for a historical-ish, Elizabethan style gown, so I’ll do the same for the underwear.  

I’d like to do a chemise and drawers, which are a little more Victorian than Elizabethan, but which would kill two birds with one stone.  One – those undergarments will help protect my probably-not-easily-washable gown from coming in direct contact with my skin, which will help the dress itself stay cleaner longer.  Two – I already have a chemise and drawers, made for a previous costume, so if I can reuse them, it would be awesome.  

The drawers are an easy reuse.  I made them for my Suiseiseki costume from Rozen Maiden, which I did as a historical, early Victorian/Civil War era gown.  I made them out of a heavy cotton fabric, so they’re machine washable on a gentle cycle.  Since the drawers were part of Suiseiseki’s costume, and she uses plant-based magic and has a kind of plant and flower theme to her, I added some lace trim with roses on it to the edges of the pant legs, and added a green ribbon into one of the trim pieces.  I can easily swap out the green ribbon to a red more suited to Carmilla. The flower lace is there to stay. I’m thinking that Carmilla would probably have been a Toreador if she existed in Vampire:The Masquerade, though, given her vanity about her appearance, so I’m okay with the roses being part of the theme.  

The chemise I have is… likely not going to work.  I’d love to reuse it since it matches the drawers in fabric and style, but with the neckline on Carmilla’s gown, it’s probably going to show.   I’m thinking I want some kind of front panel on the dress itself to make my life a little simpler and to allow me to wear some kind of corset under the dress, but I’d like that front panel to stop under my boobs so I can keep a better, more screen-accurate shape to the top of the dress.  I took a crack at designing a very specific chemise just for this dress, but it’s going to need the deepest of V-necks to work.  

A chemise and drawers on a dress form
The fanciest underwear I’ve ever made

Then, a corset.  I definitely want one.  I do not have the trim waistline of an undead royal, so I’m going to need some help in the form of steel boning.  Again, with that damn open front, I’m going to have to get creative with the design of any corsetry, but I think I can manage it.  I’m going to try to split the difference between an Elizabethan corset and a sort of fifties style shaping garment with cups. I’m going to need to do about ten mockups to get that right.  I’d also like to make a farthingale for the skirt. I don’t think a farthingale requires additional petticoats the way a Victorian cage crinoline needs them, but I need to do a little more research.  Elizabethan costumes aren’t really my area, and most of the costume reference books I own are based on Victorian era styles. Since the apocalypse is nigh, and all of the libraries are closed, I need to find some alternate research resources.  

Once again, I spent a little time doodling how I want things to look.  The little circles around the waist are points where I plan to tie the farthingale to the corset.  I have a pattern for the farthingale which will probably work just fine, but I’m likely going to need to pattern the corset and chemise myself.    

A sketch of costume undergarments
Yet another planning sketch

Designing For Confusion

I finally started looking at what making Carmilla’s costume is going to entail.  Her dress is going to be… challenging, to say the least. Her outfit defies both logic and physics in ways that only an anime dress can.  I’m willing to give this one a little more benefit of the doubt, as Carmilla is technically the ghost of a vampire who specializes in creating psychic illusions.  Since she’s got two types of undeath working for her, plus illusion magic, I suppose her clothes are allowed to be weirdly put together. But trying to make that work in reality is going to be entertaining.  

I also want to add a historic element to the dress.  Carmilla is very loosely based on a real person named Elizabeth Bathory, known as the Bloody Countess.  She lived during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, and is alleged to be one of the most prolific woman serial killers in history.  The exact details are a little hard to sort out now given how long ago it was, but either she was a terrible murdered who tortured young women for fun, or her political rivals made up the story to assure she was locked in her castle and unable to protect her assets.  Bloodlust leans in hard to the first story, and made Carmilla, the Bloody Countess into a monster that even Dracula thought was excessive.  But given the vaguely historical reference for the character, I’ve decided to make Carmilla’s gown in a pseudo-Elizabethan era style.  I say pseudo-Elizabethan, because there are some decidedly not-historically-based aspects to her anime design. Namely the shoulder and hip guard pieces and the entirely open front of her gown.  Pretty sure that open section would have people of the Elizabethan era fainting on the spot at the sight of it.  

But the skirt shape and general style of the gown (minus the above issues) can probably be adapted to an Elizabethan design.  I took a crack at drawing what I want my gown to look like. I had to take a few liberties with the design, as there are not a lot of images of Carmilla available.  Even with my old school Bloodlust DVD, I couldn’t get more than a handful of screen captures of the dress, and none of the dress without the train… sleeve… thingy involved, which means you can’t ever see the back clearly.  

My sketch of Carmilla’s gown without the train, based on limited reference images and my own imagination

And the train… sleeve… thingy.  That is going to be a nightmare.  That’s one of those pieces that can exist when it’s drawn on paper, because it doesn’t need to make physical sense.  In reality, that is going to be an M.C. Escher like monstrosity. The train is definitely attached to the long sleeve section, but then the sleeves also behave kind of like a wrap draped down around Carmilla’s mid-back.  Which is also where the train starts, and is kind of tied into/bustled with the gown itself. Although, that also depends on which shot in the film I use as a reference, because it definitely changes from one scene to the next.  I drew a couple images to try to make sense of it, and I think I have a solid plan. The train/sleeve wrap will be two pieces, with a seam at the line where it hits the dress at mid-back. It’ll almost be like a cape folded over on itself, but with arm holes.  I’m sure that description makes no sense, but that’s why I made pictures.  

The logic defying sleeve train combo
The nightmare train from the side, still just as confusing

Doing the costume sketches helped me visualize some of the trickier details of the outfit, and gave me a chance to plan things like where seams are and how stuff will be attached.  I’m still going to have to do a lot of mocking up with muslin to figure out exactly how this beast is going to work, but before any of that, I need to figure out how the undergarments are going to work.  That’ll be a topic for tomorrow.