Unleash Your Inner Six Year Old With Spool Knitting

The other night someone on Facebook posted some pictures of yarn bombing. For some reason this immediately reminded me of when I was a little kid, and I had spool knitting to keep me occupied on long trips. What the hell is spool knitting you ask? Spool knitting aka French knitting is basically knitting done in a constant spiral instead of in rows. It’s typically used to make sleeves and socks, but a small spool, like the kind I used as a kid, produces what’s basically a long rope, or an i-cord. Since I’m apparently a highly suggestible person I of course wanted to start a spool knitting project RIGHT NAO!! though because it was 1am I couldn’t go to the craft store to get a knitting spool.

Well clever me, I figured out how to make one, and you can do it too. I used a toilet paper roll. I cut into the top of it so that I had four “prongs”, similar to if you were using this to make a little cardboard castle tower, and reinforced the prongs with toothpicks and painter’s tape like a splint, since that’s what I had lying around. You could also tape four Popsicle sticks to your roll, and many people stick nails into an actual wooden spool. But as long as you have a little tube with prongs around the top, you’re good.

Ta-Da. Ava Strange in a new episode of McGuyver, coming soon to a day dream near you.

Ta-Da. Ava Strange in a new episode of McGuyver, coming soon to a day dream near you.

To start your rope, make a slipknot in some yarn and put this on one of the prongs, with the tail hanging inside. Loop the yarn around the other prongs. Then you’re going to wrap the yarn around and around, always lifting the yarn from the last pass up and over the new yarn and prong. Eugh, this is easier to do than to explain. Here’s a video that I didn’t make.

If you don’t have a knitting needle like in the video, you can use another toothpick, and if you have stiletto nails like me you won’t need anything!

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This is what it looks like coming out of the spool. You can also easily change colors by tying the old color to the new one and tucking the knot inside the rope as you continue to knit. From the top it will look like this…

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Switching colors.

So besides keeping six year olds occupied on road trips, what’s the point of this? There is of course killing time and making yourself appear more talented than you really are; there are a TON of different projects you can do, from necklaces and scarves to purses and super unnecessary pen cozies. But the simplest thing to make is a great big circle by sewing your rope around and around. Depending on how long it takes you to get bored you could end up with anything from a pot holder to a rug. Mine just passing dog/cat bed territory right now and will hopefully grow up to be a rug. And it better, because there is a lot of fighting for space on the thing right now. You could also make two of these circles, sew them together, and stuff them to make a pillow. And if you’re Hugh Hefner and you have a round bed, this is the dorkiest/most awesome way to get a new blanket.

Or perhaps a new shield for your grandson, Captain America.

Or perhaps a new shield for your grandson, Captain America.

That’s pretty damn good for some yarn and an old toilet paper roll eh?

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I’m his hero right now. I think I’ll call myself Captain Canada.

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At Home Hair Color Theory

Many years ago, I dyed my hair a lot of different colors. I spent a lot of time on haircrazy.info, which is a fantastic site, and learning what’s up. I was so enthusiastic about this that I became the at home hair color expert on allexperts.com. But this was pretty short-lived. Why? Because instead of being asked about how to achieve beautiful blue, green, or purple hair, I kept getting asked the same thing over and over – I tried to dye my hair blonde but it turned orange! omg what do I do?!

Sigh. People just need to learn to read instructions sometimes, amirite? But let me break it down for you, along with all the other basic info about dying your hair salon-free.

Bleach vs blonde dye and how box dyes work

Bleach is something that, lack of my knowledge of chemistry aside, lightens hair. Of course we know this. But what many people don’t really know is that it is NOT a dye, and absolutely not the equivalent to dying your hair blonde. Bleach will strip color whereas dye adds it. Bleach doesn’t make your hair blonde so much as it makes it yellow. Starting from black, bleach will go through stages of red, orange, yellow, white, and finally bald. It works with heat, so this is why you need to start at the tips and work your way up gradually, otherwise the heat from your scalp, making the bleach process faster, will result in a fire effect which is admittedly pretty awesome looking. This is also why bleaching out green or blue, which are the opposites of red and orange respectively, is very hard. It gets lighter, but it’s tough to make it really go away. Bleach makes your hair porous, and the lighter it is the more porous it is, which is why bald follows white. You want to be very careful at the white stage, and make sure your hair isn’t already too damaged. Bleach is TERRIBLE for your hair (and burns like hell on your scalp), but sometimes necessary to get the color you want. Please use bleach responsibly, and you’ll be ok.

Bleach is necessary in achieving white or silver/grey hair. To get white, a weak lavender veggie dye (for example Manic Panic Virgin Snow, or any shade of purple heavily diluted in conditioner, like half a teaspoon/1 cup) is used after bleaching to the lightest shade you can (please don’t bleach to white, I will not be held responsible if you lose clumps of hair). This works because purple is the opposite of yellow so the two cancel each other out. Silver/grey is achieved by doing the same thing except with very weak blue.

Bleach also comes in different strengths, called volumes. There’s 20 vol, 30 vol, and 40 vol. 20 won’t do much, 30 is the most commonly used, and 40 will destroy your hair if it isn’t in good condition.

Dye on the other hand uses developer to lift your color like a bleach, and deposit the color in its place at the same time. But it doesn’t have enough developer in it to lift your hair more than two shades or so, hence the guides you see on the side of the box. If you try to dye dark hair blonde, it won’t be able to take it all the way there, and depending on the shade it could turn your hair orange or some other color you didn’t want, or just not do a damn thing at all. For dark hair to go blond you need to bleach first to lighten it to the level you want, and dye second. However this is kind of expert territory, and very easy to get wrong. If you intend to do this I beg you to go to a salon.

There are shades of blond. Strawberry blonde has a red base, golden blonde has a yellow base, and ash blonde has a green base. Yes, I said green. People have ended up with green hair.

One last note: Semi-permanent box dyes are much less damaging than permanent ones because they contain much less developer, if any. Their purpose is to be used to enhance the color you already have and fade after 30 days. However, if you intend to dye your hair quite a bit darker, it will last just as long as a permanent one, with a fraction of the damage!

How veggie dye works

Veggie dyes are natural conditioner-based dyes in bright cartoony colors that work by filling up the pores in your hair created by bleach and/or other types of damage. You need to start with bleach or very light dyed blonde hair for it to really get in and show up as bright as it’s supposed to. Used on darker or natural hair, it will show up in a much more subtle way, and will probably fade quicker too. Because veggie dye has no developer in it, you can mix colors to get the exact shade you want, and you can leave it in your hair indefinitely. Some people even cover their head in saran wrap and a towel and sleep with it overnight before rinsing it out! Keep in mind here that this color isn’t opaque, so when you’re dying one color over another it won’t show up in its purest form. Think of it as layering different colors of cellophane. Blue over red will show up a lot more purple than intended, and green over red, as I learned when I was 19, is just gross.

Coloring alternatives

Sometimes you just really don’t want to do the damage to your hair necessary to achieve the color you want. So there are a few ways of getting around this. This involves using extensions, so your own hair isn’t affected. The best way to do this in my opinion it to get a set of clip-ins. If you can’t find the color you want, buy blonde ones and dye them the color you want. “Human hair” is not actually human hair at all, but means that it behaves like it, despite often feeling like barbie hair, so as long as it’s labelled this way you’re good to go. You can also dye it in crazy patterns, such as stripes and leopard spots, and some people sell clip-ins like this on etsy if you don’t feel up to the work. Alternatively there are also what are called “falls”, which attach to a ponytail or pigtails. These are super fun to make and can also be purchased on etsy. If you want something more permanent than clip-ins, synthetic hair can be braided or micro-beaded into your own, and there are lots of sites selling hair for this purpose. Finally, there are a whole lot of alternative subcultures full of people who routinely attach things that are not at all hair into their hair, including wool, plastic, foam, and anything you can think of. If you’re more on the wild side, these can be a fantastic way to go all out and make your hair look like nature never intended. The creativity of these people astounds me.

So there you go! Go make yourselves gorgeous!

How to Model – Posing for Beginners

I’m not a model, but I’ve been modeling as a hobby for about four years. I’ve done photoshoots, live art modeling, fashion shows, and even a bit of TV. It’s not something I take super seriously, but it can be really fun and it’s a great way to help either new photographers who need to practice certain techniques or expand their portfolios, or experienced photographers break away from the daily grind and try something new. So I thought since I’ve done this for a while and there are always people interested in doing it, I would write a quick guide, to be used either for beginner models or just people who want to fuck around with a camera on Saturday. This is not intended to be advice for professional models. They’re working on totally another level. But if you want to try this out as hobby, this might help you out.

-One first important note: SHOW UP. Models are notoriously unreliable, and this is not just rude, but a huge waste of time and probably money for everyone else involved. I have a zero tolerance policy on shoots that I’m involved in behind the camera. If you don’t at least take it seriously enough to respect other people, don’t bother. You won’t last long.

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Photo by TJ Pendragon

-RELAX! Being stiff is the biggest thing that will hold you back. Seriously, you NEED to relax. A lot.

-Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot. In truth, a fraction of your photos will be usable. That’s not because you’re not good at it, it’s just true for everyone who’s not a pro. Out of the 10 pictures you might see in an album, often over 300 were actually taken. This means that many of them are unusable anyway, and not being afraid to “go there” is what’s going to result in magic on those few good ones. Otherwise, the whole thing can fall flat.

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OMG HEEEEELP! Seriously, it was so hard to get out of this thing.

HEEEEELP! Photo by Jenna Lee

-Use a prop. The biggest challenge is when you’re just standing in front of a backdrop. You wonder WTF are you supposed to do? Having a prop gives you something to interact with, something to do with your arms, and helps you a lot for ideas. My favorite thing so far has been a hoola hoop, but you could use anything, including a wall. When you’re totally stuck, use your own body!

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Dat ass.

-Don’t forget your neck.

-Make small movements. If you’re new to posing and the idea overwhelms you, moving one body part at a time will not only make things more simple, but give the photographer a lot of variety, and time to see what they might like you to do.

-Point your toes. All the time. Even when you’re standing (heels count).

Foot fetishists gave me my start on Deviant Art.

Foot fetishists gave me my start on Deviant Art.

-Communicate with the photographer. Tell them any ideas or concerns you may have and they’ll work with you while directing you. Directing isn’t them telling you what to do, it’s a conversation and a collaboration. Help them help you.

-If your pose feels physically weird, uncomfortable, or painful, it often means it looks awesome. Sometimes even your damn eyeballs will hurt.

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Photo by Kathy Cruz (Glam Chix Artistry), makeup artist and other model is Elliot James

-If you feel mentally weird, uncomfortable, or painful, you need to stop.

-Whatever you’re doing, do it more. Subtlety isn’t usually the camera’s friend (though it can be).

-Be versatile. Don’t do the same damn style with the same damn pose with the same damn face all the time. That shit is boring. Nobody wants to shoot something they could have photocopied from another shoot you did.

Me? Do edgy and boyish? NE-I mean, YES!

The red nail polish makes this a little less believable. Photo by Shawn Fillion

-Check out what other people are doing for inspiration.

-Keep in mind that a photo is not 3D. The closer something is to the camera the bigger it looks. It seems obvious but the impact is huge. I have this picture where my foot looks freakin enormous because of its proximity to the camera.

See?

See? I’m a monster!! Photo by Chris Wilkinson

-When you’re smiling, have the shot taken while you’re exhaling. It forces you to relax so it looks more natural. Just like when you get a piercing!

-If you have a blinking problem, close your eyes and open them on the count of three. The shot should be taken immediately after.

This is my favorite picture in the world right now.

This is my favorite picture in the world right now.

-DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF!! Professional models are beautiful, but they’re only one kind of beautiful. Be a role model to people who look like you.

Dat ass.

Dat ass.

How to Make a Parasol – An Experiment

My cousin Jenna is one of the coolest people I have ever known. She’s so much fun and I think she’s more mature than I am. Over the last three years we’ve gotten really close. So when she spent her 16th birthday in Europe and came across a black lace parasol she absolutely loved, I wanted her to have one. But I can’t afford one. These things cost over 100$. But I had known about online tutorials since I was her age. When I heard she was coming to visit for spring break I decided that it would be a perfect activity for us to do together. She could not only have a parasol, but it would be her own unique creation and we would have a lot of fun doing it.

Forgive my bad pictures, I just use my phone and it’s tough to take pictures with it in my dark ass living room, especially when those pictures include black lace.

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So here are my supplies. At Fabricland I got ribbon in black, white, silver and ivory. I thought she might want to wrap ribbon around the handle in Tim Burton-esque stripes, but I wasn’t sure what colors so I got a few. I also wanted to use ribbon as the tie, which would double as a pretty bow whether the parasol is open or closed. For other decoration I got different silver buttons with crowns, crests, and flowers, because I thought they would remind her of Europe. I got some red jeweled ones just because they’re pretty. Of course I needed a fabric, so I got black stretch lace. And I got a kid’s umbrella, because the smaller size makes sense for a parasol, and it’s all Walmart had anyway. Also pictured: a charm I’ve had in my drawer for years, needles, and thread. Not pictured: a big cross pendant with chains and silver glitter fabric glue I left in another bag, because we had talked about painting a silver spiderweb pattern over it. It all cost…well let’s just say I know why these things are so damn expensive now.

When I had another look at the tutorials, it became clear this was not just a couple hours’ job. So I decided to get a head start and do the base in advance (Thank god I did, it took all day). I settled in for a carefree day of parasol-making, blogging, and indie comedies on Netflix.

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The first step is to pop the top off the umbrella. This was insanely hard. It took pliers, a soft cloth to prevent gouging, and a ton of muscle to twist like hell and get it off.

IMG_1378Now normally you would also remove the plastic caps on the ends of the spokes and set them aside for later. This wasn’t the case for me because instead of them being glued on over the fabric, the fabric was sewn to the caps through little holes. So I left them on and just snipped the thread.

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I also then snipped the thread holding the fabric on half way up the spokes. As you can see here, without the nylon to hold the spokes down, they’re coming up more flat now instead of holding a more rounded bell shape.

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So then it looked like this. The last thing I had to do to get the fabric off was snip the threads and break up the glue at the top.

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So then I was left with this. At this point the traditional method involves using the removed umbrella fabric as a pattern for your new fabric. I started doing this by separating one of the triangles by cutting it at the seams, then laying it over the lace and cutting around it leaving for seam allowance. But as soon as I cut that first triangle I decided this would take absolutely forever, and I don’t have the talent to sew them together straight. So fuck it. I just did what I had in mind before checking the tutorials and lay the lace over the top of the umbrella. I poked a little hole in it and pushed it over the silver thing at the top to hold it in place. The lace is stretch, so it’s fine. It looked like this…

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I decided to hold off on trimming the fabric, because I wasn’t sure what Jenna would prefer. We could trim it, leave it looking like a veil, or pile the excess fabric over the top, which could be quite pretty and let less light pass through. Now I just had to sew the lace to the plastic caps on the end of the spokes. It was super hard keeping the spokes even, because they liked to swing back and forth. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it’s not obvious. I stretched the lace pretty far hoping that this would return the parasol to the bell shape it had before, but it didn’t really work. So then I pulled the ends together with thread. It wasn’t super pretty looking, but it wasn’t that noticeable either, and if Jenna didn’t like it I could easily snip it apart. This took a lot of effort since I had nobody to hold the ends down while I tied off the thread.

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Done for the day. This kind of shows what it looks like with the extra fabric piled on top. I think I’m off to a good start!

Day 2. Jenna is here!!

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Isn’t she the cutest girl in the whole world? I put her in one of my outfits because I thought it would be fun to dress up and go to dinner.

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While I got my nails done, she set to work decorating it. I should have got more of a close-up. She sewed the buttons around the top, and put the cross in the middle. She spread around some of the glitter glue over the top so it looks like it was snowed on with sparkles.

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It turns out she really did love it with a veil. It reminded us of the big black hat Lydia wears in Beetlejuice. So she just trimmed one side of it very slightly. She loved this parasol to death by the way. She carried it with her to the restaurant and back even though it was dark out.

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We didn’t get as much time together as we wanted, so I didn’t get to see it with any ribbon. But I sent her home with the remaining supplies, and she plans to add to it later. It’s also going to be used as a charm parasol, with little tokens from her travels added over time. This whole thing turned out to be a GREAT idea. We had a lot of fun and the look on her face and seeing her hug it was priceless. And I’m totally going to buy her this outfit in her size one day.

A smiling goth. She is just that happy.

A smiling goth. She is just that happy.

Triple Reverse Ombre, or “Ombre Extreme!!!”

I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the ombre trend is over. Excuse me? I hate trends, and finally I found something I really like. You don’t get to tell me it’s over. No, now is the time to take this shit to the next level. Ombre Extreme!! Let’s do this thing.

You recall from my first post about how to achieve a reverse ombre that I put black on the ends. Well, it turned out great. I absolutely love it, and I think I’ll keep it pretty much forever.  And today I’m going to expand on that. First up, a simplification of the process on the bottom. This is a complete revision and you’ll never have to read my first article again, except it still has pretty pictures.

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The second time I did the black on my ends, I wanted Bea to do it because she’s a hair genius. I’m always afraid of missing things in the back because I’m not an alien and I don’t have eyes back there. Well, she surprised me, even for her. She did the whole thing in under five minutes and didn’t spill a drop. She also didn’t use the brush, or separate my hair into blunt chunks by layer like I did. As it turns out, that was totally unnecessary. In fact the whole thing is just so easy I feel kind of stupid now for over thinking it so much before. She took a small piece from the front, saturated the bottom, and just pushed the dye up with her fingers. Then she went around my head, going purposely uneven so everything highlighted and swirled beautifully, and that was literally it. The only thing to know about this is you want the bulk of the dye to be at the bottom so you’re not dragging very much up with your fingers. I just slap a little glob on there, make sure it’s really worked in, and just slide my fingers up and down up through the transition part to carry it through. Easy. You won’t even believe it. Retouching my hair as it fades is now crazy quick and painless. And after about 5 times doing this I’m still using the same jar I started with.

Seen here with hair flairs, for added color and sparkle.

Now you may also remember me saying I don’t use bleach, because my hair is already blond and bleach kind of scares me. So to get my bright red to take I was dying the roots very light blond as an alternative. Now, this is the shitty part about bright hair upkeep. Most hair dye is just one process out of the box, but these bright veggie colors need bleach/blond, and then color is a second step. And let’s face it, I’m lazy. Often I dyed my roots blond and because I didn’t want to dry and dye and wash my hair a second time in one evening, I just left it. And left it. And left it. Soon I had some pretty crazy blond roots going on, and my hair was three colors. And actually that was pretty awesome. The color itself wasn’t bad, but me and light hair just don’t mix. It’s not me, and I needed to tone it down a bit. So then over the fall I started dying it copper. At first I didn’t love it, it was just too orange. But it always faded to a very pretty warm golden blond. And there I have it, the perfect tri-colored fire ombre. My laziness actually paid off and now it looks like I put in even more effort than I did before. I just keep touching up the roots, and don’t go there when I touch up the red part.

Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!

So enough about me. How can you do this? Let’s take this into the perspective that you will be keeping with the light-to-dark theme instead of the other way around. This way is a LOT less damaging. If you hair is already light to begin with, you can take it any color from there. To do your roots just make a bunch of partings and paint them with your color of choice and your tinting brush. Go as far down the length as you want, you’ll be covering it up with the darker colors after and extending it down a bit may even help the gradient effect because hair dye is rarely opaque. Take the second color, making sure it’s complimentary and a bit darker, and dye from your preferred starting point downward. It transitions smoother when you brush upwards in a sort of rounded “swooping” motion instead of plopping it on and brushing down the usual way, which would be very abrupt and unforgiving on unevenness. Then do it again with the third color either with your brush or the way I described I was doing my ends earlier. Most likely of course you’ll be doing this in three separate steps instead of all at once, and it’s ok to not even do it all in the same day. It might even be four steps if your root color doesn’t come in a box and you need to lighten it first. Suddenly this style doesn’t seem quite so lazy anymore, but I don’t call it “ombre extreme” for nothing.

Hellooo profile picture.

Hellooo profile picture.

Or you could sort of simplify and do it like me, if you’re patient and a little shy about wanting to do your roots something extra awesome (bonus – if you’re going white, the heat from your scalp processes bleach quicker, so your roots will be easy). This is also good if your hair is too dark/already damaged to handle the lightening and you want to start fresh with strong virgin hair. Choose the middle color as your base and do that all over. Then do your darkest color on your ends. Live with that. As your hair grows, touch up your roots not with your main color but with the lighter root color. Most likely this will involve lightening and either keeping it that way or dying something else on top later that day or the next. Have fun thinking of all the pretty colors you could do. White-purple-black, white-blue-black, blond-teal-royal blue, blond-pink-purple….this is going to be so much fun. Pro tip: Use lip liner, eyeliner, or eyeshadow to tint your eyebrows to match your hair. Next up for me, pink-red-black “flower” ombre!

Like a boss

Like a boss

You NEED to show me pictures if you do this. Let’s show them something fresh and keep ombre in.

How to Corset – Step by Step in Great Detail

I like to keep things simple. I have a lot of corset Q&A type stuff on here, but if you really want to do this, from start to finish, this is going to make more sense to you as a beginner than going through all those articles. Go pee first, this might take a while to read.

Prepare to corset. Learn everything you can, make sure you have no medical issues that will be aggravated by the corset, and turn at least 18, generally the legal age for body modification and so you know your skeleton is mostly done growing. Yes, mods can be done at an earlier age with parental consent, and this is not something you get done in a studio that requires you to sign a contract so who’s to stop you? My sense of responsibility, that’s what. I started at 20, and for me it was the perfect age. Young enough to be pliable, but old enough to be responsible and no longer really developing. As far as how old you can be? I won’t put a number on that, even Cathie Jung was about 45, but just make sure you’re healthy. As long as your body can handle it I don’t care if you’re old enough to have seen them the first time around. People enjoy things they remember.

Learning everything you can refers to, well, everything. Go nuts with this and have fun. Learn about how corsets are constructed, how they affect your body, how to wear corsets responsibly, all the different types of corsets out there, and just take the opportunity to appreciate some cultural and fashion history. Saving up for a proper corset takes time, and wearing one is something to be taken seriously, so you really shouldn’t jump into it right away, and you’ll need something to do while you save up anyway. For financial reasons I waited years before getting my first one, and read anything I could get my hands on in the meantime. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford one right NOW, at least give yourself a good couple weeks of study in the most important parts, such as the physiological aspects, how to care for your body and your corset, and how to know you’re getting a proper one.

Select your corset. If you’re a lady I really recommend buying from a place like this, which is excellent. They’re especially affordable, and if you’re going to be tightlacing you don’t want to spend a ton of money on something you’ll only be wearing for a few months. All you really need is something sturdy that does its job and doesn’t hurt. These corsets have a lot more curve to them than Timeless Trends, too. These will also help you to get used to wearing a corset and prepare your body for the next step, if you decide to take it. I’ve worn many like this, and I give you my seal of approval.

As for design, get a black underbust if you have any intention of wearing it over your clothes. Something like this one to the left over here.

Corset from Aether Angels

If you don’t like black and/or you’ll only be wearing it under your clothes, consider something like this on the right.

Josephine Underbust by Isabella Corsetry

If you are a gentleman or biologically male, don’t wear a corset designed for a biologically female body. For off-the-rack corsets, check out Timeless Trends (link) and Dracula Clothing (link). Both have them for men wanting to maintain a masculine shape. It’s not much yet, but it’s a start!

The other option is to order one custom from a corsetiere who knows how to create corsets suited for male body types, whether you are trying to maintain a masculine or feminine physique. And you may want to let them know which one it is that you’re after, because getting it wrong would be pretty unfortunate. They should be able to do both. In particular I recommend Contour Corsets. They really know what they’re doing and used to have a separate site just for men called The Dandy Corset Company. That site doesn’t seem to be around anymore, but Contour Corsets still is.

Be patient. An off the rack corset can take a few weeks to arrive, custom can be easily over 2 months. Maybe you should study some more.

Make sure it’s properly laced. A corset should not be laced like a shoe. NOT be laced like a shoe, you hear me? Why do I keep seeing corsets laced like shoes! The laces should not cross between the panels but create a series of Xs completely over and completely under the panels. This lessens the friction and allows the panels to meet at the back when that’s finally ready to happen. Most corsets unfortunately will come improperly laced, and you should fix this. The very best way involves a tip where instead of creating your bunny ears from top to bottom, you cross them over and make them go from bottom to top before continuing down the back of the corset. This gives you more laces at the waist instead of a gap, which greatly helps keep the tension in the waist. Here’s a video, because I’m sure that reading that just didn’t make any sense.

It’s also helpful to take the very bottom of each end of the laces and cross it over to the grommet on the other side as the final step, so that they cross over each other. This also helps you to keep the tension.

Prepare your body. Go do your thing in the bathroom, it will get a bit tricky later and you don’t want anything bulking up your insides. Then moisturize well and put on a liner. In the beginning at least, a liner doesn’t have to be much more than a tank top. The best ones I’ve bought feel like a bathing suit. They’re super smooth and stretchy and awesome. Some people also buy bathing suit material and make their own. That’s not really necessary. Just tuck the straps of the tank top in or cut them off. But you need something. I always see girls with skin showing from behind their laces and I know they’re not wearing a liner, and that’s gross. You really can’t put a corset in the washing machine, so this is how you keep it clean. It also makes it slide along your skin much more comfortably. I can’t imagine not wearing a liner. A corset worn without one is pretty uncomfortable.

Prepare the corset. Undo the busk, and loosen the laces enough that it’s very easy to put around your body. Most people find doing up the busk to be very tricky and I get asked to help a lot. But the biggest tip is to start from the second or third prong, work down, and then come back and do the top. This prevents the top from acting like a hinge and swinging the rest of it wide open out of reach. It also tends to keep coming undone if you do it that way.

Lace yourself up. It’s very important to be gentle here. When you hit that wall of resistance, stop, even if you feel you could go smaller. Generally this has to do with breaking it in, described below. But if this is your first corset you also need to train your body. If it hurts you’re doing it wrong. It’s completely normal to only be able to wear it for about 20-30 minutes the first time. Your body isn’t used to it yet. Take it off, take a break, and try again later.

The way to actually lace it up is to pull the bunny ears (those big loops at the waist) until you hit that wall of resistance. You can go  past if it you and your corset are both more experienced. I can’t tell you how much, when you get there you’ll know. Then grab the over-Xs taking out the slack from top to middle and then bottom to middle. Pull the bunny ears again. Repeat if necessary. Tie the bunny ears in a bow. Then you can you can tuck the dangly bits under the bottom of the corset under your Xs to keep them out of the way. A lot of experienced girls will hook their laces around a doorknob in order to keep the tension while they work the laces. It’s funny to watch but it works. In the old days some people even had a hook in the wall for this purpose.

It’s important to make sure that the grommets in the back are as parallel as possible otherwise you’re not only putting uneven pressure on the corset, but you’ll actually condition it to sit crooked. Stop to lift your arms up and wiggle a couple times while you lace to stretch your torso out and keep your body properly positioned inside the corset. Also take a few moments to tug at the bottom of the liner to make sure it stays smooth under there, because any wrinkles can be uncomfortable or painful. Don’t get discouraged if all this is hard at first. It’s like learning to put on a bra. It’s tricky as hell for a few days or a week and then it becomes second nature. And believe me when I say it will take less time to do than to read.

Break it in: Being patient again. I hate this part. I’m really bad at it. But it’s very important not just to give your body time to adjust, but to give your corset time to adjust as well so you don’t put excessive stress on it and weaken or even damage it. If I was not terrible at this I would go by the rule of 2. Two inches of reduction, twice a day, two hours each time, for two weeks. This is just easy for me to remember. Everybody will tell you a different way to break it in, but what it all comes down to is GO SLOW, be kind to the corset, and wait until it feels like it’s really part of you before you go and start trying to see how tight you can go. Even if you can lace like Scarlet O’Hara, the corset needs to get to know you a bit first. Come on, it’s a lady.

Dress to hide it, or dress to show it off. This depends on where you’ll be going, and how brave you are. The office is not the most appropriate place to be donning what your boss might incorrectly assume is fetish wear. That is of course unless you work in a fetish shop or something of the like, in which case you might get yourself a nice promotion. Generally, things that hide tummys are things that hide tiny waists. Empire waist tops and dresses are the best, things like roomier sweaters are great too. If you don’t have a huge reduction you should be fine with something a little more form-fitting and/or adding a wide belt. It will be enough to show off your figure without scaring anybody.

I wore this to work today. The corset is very small, but you can barely tell. Vintage clothes of the New Look era are perfectly suited to corsets.

I wore this to work today. The corset is very small, but you can barely tell. Vintage clothes of the New Look era are perfectly suited to corsets.

If you want to show it off, there aren’t a lot of rules. If you’re keeping it underneath your clothing then a wiggle dress is going to be about the hottest thing you can put on. You can also put it on top of just about anything, it does wonders pulling an outfit together. Just make sure that whatever you’re putting it over doesn’t have a lot of bulk. No excessive fabric, no folds, no beads, no zippers or buttons, you get the idea. You want this area to be smooth. if it’s not smooth you’re gonna have a bad time. I also recommend wearing heels. Not super high ones, but heels in general will correct the change of posture the corset creates, making you stand more naturally and keeping you a bit more comfortable.

Live: Eating, sitting, pooping, getting drunk, and the cycle method. You can still eat plenty, but you may have to make some slight adjustments. Eat less food more often, and avoid carbs and gassy things. They’ll suck.

You can also still sit in a corset, I’m doing that right now, but because you’re not able to bend at the waist you’ll be more comfortable with a higher chair, and you’ll probably find yourself standing and leaning on things a lot more than you used to. Even without a higher chair you’ll actually feel taller as your torso is being propped right up. It’s important to note here that if you have painful shoes you’ll want to sit, but the corset will make you want to stand, and once again it will suck. Dress like a responsible person unless you’re a masochist or otherwise going to be attending a fetish ball.

Now, they say that the rumor that if you drink a lot and then take the corset off that you’ll get suddenly drunk is a myth. It’s not, at least not for everyone. If you want to drink don’t keep it so tight (and try to avoid carbonated drinks or that air will have a tendency to get trapped in your chest). That alcohol will stay higher in your digestive system, not accomplishing much, and then you’ll get hammered when you take it off before bed and it all suddenly goes down. Of course, you may decide this is fine with you.

Pooping is a challenge when you’re in a corset too. Wow, it sounds like I’m describing a whole lot of unpleasantness! Don’t let this scare you, none of it is that bad. It’s just a series of small adjustments. First things first – make sure your laces don’t dangle into the toilet. Tuck them up under the corset or hold them in front of you. Because you can’t bend at the waist, you’ll find yourself wishing you had longer arms when you’re about done. If you just can’t manoever enough, push from the front instead of pulling from the back. You know what I mean. You may also find that your…routine is a touch different than what it used to be, if you lace quite tightly. Just make sure you’re not constipated, because this could indicate a pinched colon. Ease up on that shit, it will all work itself out.

The cycle method is something I’ve been doing from day one, but I didn’t know it was actually a thing. A lot of corset wearers intend to lace it and leave it. I’ve been made fun of for tampering with my laces on a pretty much constant basis. But your body changes throughout the day and throughout the month. It doesn’t actually make a lot of sense to ignore this and keep the same level of tightness all the time. For example when you eat it’s going to feel a lot more tight if you’re eating a regular meal instead of a very small one. So the cycle method allows for this, and all you have to know is that you should be comfortable all the time. If it starts to feel tight, loosen it. If it starts to feel loose, tighten it. Do what you need to do. The time spent in the corset is more important than how tight it is, and this will keep you comfortable allowing you to wear it for longer periods. It’s also just plain nature. As Fran from Contour Corsets described in her article (I think she’s the one who formally invented the cycle method. You can read more about it here.), it’s like the seasons. Some days are colder and some days are warmer, but in the end it will still become summer. It’s physically healthy and mentally zen.

Tightlacing: Even more patience. By following the cycle method, wearing your corset every day or other day, and not forcing anything, you will find that over time the same comfort level will translate to a smaller and smaller corseted waist. You don’t even actually have to do this too consciously. Just be wrapped in that firm hug as often as you can and it will happen. For me it took 3 months to close a 20 inch corset from a natural waist of 26 inches, and it’s been years now trying to get actually comfortable with that all day, due to a huge ton of long-term inconsistency on my part (I blame many things). So I am actually still training. Consistency and loving it are key. Don’t think about the number, just do what feels good and chill. If you don’t want to tightlace, don’t. You don’t have to wear it every day, and you don’t have to wear it any tighter than it takes to get rid of the big gaps on the top and bottom. If you do, keep in mind that the smaller you go the longer things will take, and the more time you’ll have to wear it. Every day or other day for 8-12 hours at a time is fine for about 6 inches. If you want to get to 10+ you may find you have to sleep in it, and so forth.

Start all over again! It’s been a few months and now you can close your corset. Now here’s the fun part. Time for custom, baby! You may be hesitant because of the cost, as I was. But you just don’t move backward in the corset world. Steel people never wear plastic again, and custom people never wear off the rack again, generally speaking. This corset may be a lot more expensive than your last one, but it’s going to feel amazing to wear, you get to design it yourself, and it’s going to take you to body proportions you’ve never imagined you could achieve.

And now you’re addicted. Happy lacing!

How I Reverse Ombre-ed My Hair

Rose Hair

I know that there are a million bajillion tutorials on how to do ombre at home, and yet in my own search for them I could find very little on how to do it reversed, where you don’t bleach the bottom and instead you dye it darker. It definitely stands to reason that if you have light or bright hair in general you wouldn’t necessarily want to go lighter or brighter on the bottom, so learning how to apply bleach in this way isn’t particularly helpful. It might not make any sense for you. So I’m going to add to the multitude a tutorial that may vary a slight bit, how I achieved this (last night, at the time of writing) using just veggie dye.

Hellooo profile picture.

Hellooo profile picture.

You may recall that in a post a while back, Holly Hui Hair, I had decided I wanted a change and was going to get purple ombre applied to the bottom of my hair. Well after two relatively costly salon visits, I accepted that my hair wasn’t taking to it as I had hoped. The bottom of my hair was just a shade darker and plum-ier, but still very much red all over. A visible contrast could only really be seen in pictures. So I thought, whatever, my hair takes to Punky better than Matrix, it’s cheaper to do this at home, and why not go for black for more punch because I KNOW that will show up? I’ve been dying my own hair for ages now and with all the tutorials already out there it could definitely be worth a try to experiment with a new technique. So here’s how I did it in one step (if you don’t count my touch-ups) with no bleach.

Because my hair is extremely layered, I didn’t want to dye everything in one chunk. I wanted the color to go up roughly the same distance on every length, which helps with the gradation effect and just…makes sense. So what I did first was separate my hair into little bundles according to the different layers and tied them off so that each section was pretty much all blunt. This was a bit tough but most definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. When I was done this part I counted each ponytail – I had 11 – and tore squares of foil for each section plus one for my bangs.

IMG_2170Now here’s where I’m going to mention something you may find helpful. Instead of wearing an old tshirt, wear nothing. Just maybe some pajama shorts or something and a towel safety pinned around your neck, but be topless. I know you wear the old shirt because you wouldn’t mind messing it up but isn’t it still hard to get that thing over your head when your hair is smothered in dye, and wouldn’t you rather drip on nothing? I definitely find this easier. Also you will really be needing a tint brush for this, or if you can’t find the 2$ under the couch to buy one at the drug store, use a paint brush or toothbrush if you must. I don’t have a mixing bowl, so when I’m mixing color or it comes in a tube or bottle I can’t dip into, I line a regular bowl with saran wrap.

I know this isn’t *reverse* ombre but you must understand there is a lack of pictures, and this is just too pretty not to show you.

So anyway, now you’re all set up and ready to go. The hardest part I’m sure you’re thinking is how to get the color to evenly fade out instead of just stopping. With a piece of foil behind your hair so you have something to press on, brush the dye thoroughly into the bottom few inches. Turn your hair over a few times to make sure you’re getting it all the way around. I didn’t at first and this is why I had to touch up. I also forgot a piece. But if you do this right unlike me, you’ll only have to do it once. Once the bottom is covered, turn your tint brush to the side, and brush the dye gently upwards, easing it up gradually into the lighter color. Don’t worry about doing a perfect job, because it will be easily camouflaged by all the other pieces you’re doing, especially if you have layers. Where I didn’t go as high with the black, the red is thus taken down a little more in that section and creates a highlight in the black before it too fades out, making the effect look even more gradual. So don’t sweat it, this will look totally pro. As you finish each piece, wrap it in the foil and fold it up so it stays in place and protects the dye from getting onto the rest of your hair and boobs. Repeat until finished.

IMG_2177

This abstract body art is brought to you by Punky Color.

When you’re using a veggie dye, there’s no developer, so you can leave it in as long as you want. Many people will recommend about 4 hours. I didn’t have that kind of time, and I was a bit nervous about what I was doing looking stupid, so I left it in for half an hour, which for black was enough. If you’re doing black you might want to check that the color base goes with the rest of your hair so it will look ok as it fades. The Punky Color black that I used is blue-based, as I learned from watching all the inky water go down the drain, so as the black fades the bottom of my hair will turn…purple! How convenient! If however it was green based as I believe Manic Panic is, I would end up with a gross mess and would have to do a lot more maintenance. So just keep that in mind.

I also had a bit of help in that since my hair had already been ombre-ed (somebody tell me if that’s a word) “purple”, my hair already got a bit darker towards the middle which makes this look better. If you want a similar effect, you can mix a small amount of your bottom color into your top color or dilute it in conditioner and follow the same general instructions to a little higher up, say, your ears. You can also use a different color for this altogether. But no matter how many colors you choose, remember that if you’re using veggie dyes, the top colors will run into the bottom colors as you wash your hair, and each color may fade enough to reveal the color underneath, so have a look at your color theory and make sure they’ll look good together and you’re going gradually darker towards the bottom, or your beautiful dye job could get all mucky.

So was that pretty simple? Show me pictures if you do this!

UPDATE: For a new take on the look with even more edge, check out Triple Reverse Ombre, or Ombre Extreme!!!