Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Everything You Never Knew You Needed To Know About Bras

I'm about to get as girly as this blog has ever been, guys, so fellas? Yes, you - I know you're out there! Yeah, look, unless you're a guy who likes reading about lady boobs and lingerie, you may want to skip this one. Although I promise to throw in some fun geeky bras every now and then, just to keep it interesting:

Handpainted Starfleet Uniform Bra, $35 from SceeneShoes


Ok, so, the other night I was following a rabbit trail of web links - like you do - and I ended up on this fascinating Reddit forum about bras. And when I say "fascinating," I mean I stayed up until 3AM reading, because holy WOW how did I not know this stuff before?

You know how you always hear that something like 90% of women wear the wrong size bra? I'd heard that, too, but never thought much of it. Sure, my bra straps were constantly falling down and the wires were always jabbing me in the sides and I'd been convinced I was just shaped like a mutant for most of my life, but GOSH DARN IT I WAS ONE OF THE 10% GETTING IT RIGHT. Right?


Did you know that a bra's cup size changes with its band size? So a 34D's cup is a fraction of the size of a 40D's cup? This seems blindingly obvious now, but I promise you I HAD NO IDEA. I think I've just been programmed since my Barbie-playing days that D = ginormous boobs, so I never bothered to think beyond that.

"MARVEL-OUS in Black" Bra, $65 from MeganElizabeth31

More stuff I learned:

- There are something called "sister sizes," or bra sizes that hold equal amounts of mass. For example, a 34D is roughly equal to a 36C, in as far as how much boobage mass they will hold. Here's a handy visual guide of sister sizes, plus other band-to-bust ratios:

It took me about five solid minutes of staring at that graphic to make any sense of it, but once you get it, it's great info to have  - especially if you're in-between band sizes like me.

- If you bend at the waist to adjust yourself with the "scoop & swoop" method, you can INSTANTLY become at least a full cup size bigger. (Hit that link for some impressive, NSFW before-and-after photos.) I tried this, and I can assure you: it totally works.

- There are generally two kinds of breast shapes: full-on-top and full-on-the-bottom. If you're full-on-the-bottom like me, you may have been fooled into thinking a bra's cup size was too large for you, simply because it gaped at the top like so:

NOT SO. Some bras are simply made to fit full-on-the-top ladies, while others fit full-on-the-bottom or both shapes. Head over to Bras I Hate for the whole post explaining the two shapes, plus plenty of helpful visuals like that one.

This next one is one of my favorite bits:

- A lot of armpit flab and folds are actually breast tissue being smashed upward by an ill-fitting bra. Ditto for back folds. So a properly fitted bra could actually eliminate some or all of your arm flab and back folds. (Great example in the 3rd set of photos here.)

Here's the most important take-away, though:

- The vast majority of women are wearing bras that are too big in the band size, and too small (by far) in the cup size.

So after reading this excellent and easy guide for measuring yourself, I decided to measure myself. (It's just two measurements - easy peasy.) Then I plugged in the numbers to the bra calculator she links to and did a quadruple take. Then I went back and measured myself again because there was NO WAY I was the size it claimed. Then I did the numbers manually, using the graph in the same post. Same results.

After the third measuring & calculating I finally gave up and decided to just go bra shopping. The proof is in the pudding, right? (Or in this case, the padding?)

Ok, so now let's get nitty-gritty, girls. LET'S TALK NUMBERS.

For the past few years I've been bumping up my band size, even though my weight has been the same. I could tell something wasn't fitting, what with the wires jabbing me and the gore* floating off my chest, but since I've never had much in the tracts of land department, I figured the band size was the only thing I could increase. So, I went from a 36B to all 38Bs.

[*Technical term! That's the bridge between cups at the front. See? I told you I learned stuff!]

Today I brought home 4 new bras that fit me just about perfectly. They're way more comfortable than my 38Bs, and they look about a million times better, too. Guess what size they are?  


34 FREAKING D, you guys. And on some of those the cups are a smidge too small, but YOU try finding a 34DD at Ross or Marshall's. (The calculator actually tried to tell me I need a DDD, but since I'd have to order those online I think I'll start with these and reassess in a few months. According to the forum I might need a larger cup size then due to tissue migration, anyway.)

How did I go from a 38B to a 34D? Simple. I put the bra on, bent at the waist, and scooped and adjusted until everything was up front and in place. Then I stood upright and goggled at my new found acreage.

Believe it or not, I really was adjusting each time I suited up in my bras before - but not with the bending-at-the-waist, "scoop & swoop" method. That part is totally key. Turns out gravity is a powerful ally!

You're probably thinking I can't breathe in my new bras, or that they're tight enough to make a Victorian lady gasp. Nope! They're snug, sure, but I can easily fit several fingers under the band. I actually measure exactly 35 inches, so I have to wear the 34s on the last hook - but that's good! See, another thing I learned: you should always buy bras that fit on the *last* hook, so you have room to tighten them as they stretch out over time. Again, that seems so obvious now - so why wasn't I doing it before?!

(Because of the sister-sizes thing, I also picked up two 36C bras. They only fit on the tightest hooks, so they won't last as long as the 34Ds, but they're great for now.)

Another benefit of the smaller bands: there's not as much weight on my shoulder straps. I'm hoping that means the straps won't be falling down as much, although only time will tell.

 Rapunzel Bra Top, $48 by ElectricAveCreations

(I'm not usually one for frilly bras, but seriously: How cute is this?)

Ok, ladies, so now it's your turn: Go measure yourself using this post as a guide. DO IT. Do it now!! Then go try on whatever bra size the post's calculator or graph tells you to.

When you first try the new size on, it will feel too tight in the band and too big in the cup. DON'T PANIC. Just bend and scoop, baby! YEAH! (Sorry. Austin Power's moment.) And don't be surprised if your cups runneth over once you straighten up again!

Believe it or not, I've only scratched the surface of bra anatomy, so you should really head over to that forum, A Bra That Fits, to explore and learn more for yourself. Check the sidebar for all the basics and more helpful guides like what I've listed here. Then go learn about tissue migration, shallow breasts, how to spot a proper fit, and all the rest! I'm telling you, there's at LEAST enough there to keep you reading 'til 3AM.

Oh, and if you're curious how John feels about all this, let's just say he's the one who told me I HAVE to write this post, as a service to all mankind. Ha! He was as skeptical as I was initially, but after seeing my new sizes he's allll smiles.

Please share your own experiences/knowledge in the comments, ladies, and let me know if that measurement system works for you! Also, HUGE shout-out to all the lovely contributors and moderators at A Bra That Fits. I'm not a Redditor, so I'll just say it here: You guys rock! Thank you!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Steam 4/13/13

I'll be the first to admit I don't fully understand how Polyvore works, but I am loving these Disney Steampunk themed outfits:

Now THIS is some fashion eye candy I can get behind! Go see the rest here. (And it's probably best if you don't explain to me how Polyvore works; I have a feeling I'd get seriously addicted.)

Caged pendant lights are nothing new, but I really love this assortment of styles from blogger Mockabee 7's kitchen makeover:

She doesn't mention where she got them, though, and I've never seen a round one like that before, or the tear drop shaped one. Any of you know?

[Update: A-ha! I knew I could trust you guys to find them! The lights are from Shades of Light, and cost $450 for the set of 5. They also come in polished brass and silver, but those options are $200 more.]

I'm thinking I'd like to hang caged pendants like those kind of like this for our dining room:

By Instructables user jmitch77 (hit the link for instructions) 
With at least eight or ten lights, though, and sort of doubled up so they look like a big mass of lights hanging down. John says this is ridiculously easy to do, so it's all about finding those cages - and hoping they don't cost a fortune when I do. (There's GOT to be way to DIY those things, right? Right?)

More proof the internet makes the world a smaller place: I heard from New Zealand "junk artist" Sean Boyd this week, who said one of you readers pointed him toward Epbot. So I went to look at his work, and lo and behold, I've had this ray gun of his on my "Steampunk Inspirations" Pinterest board for ages now!

Isn't it gorgeous? 

A few more of my favorites:

Sean does a variety of both steampunk and sci-fi inspired work. I'm particularly smitten with these sleek retro styles:

Sean tells me he just quit his day job this year to pursue his art full time, so go see more of his work at his Flickr gallery, or visit his website for available pieces or to ask him about commissions! (P.S. My birthday is next month. JUST SAYING.) 

Next up, Marni J. spotted this stunning USB Heart Necklace by Etsy seller Rob Smith, aka Artype:
(The top section conceals the USB stick.) 
This one has already sold, but Smith has a similar style here for $169. I can't get over how gorgeous that detail is!

And finally, in the spirit of that My Little Pony generator we all lost WAY too much time playing with way back when, I give you ... the Mega Steampunk Dress Up Game!

Cut to 30 minutes later, and here's mine:

She started out as a steampunk Tinkerbell, then turned into a potion master. Heh.

Cut to another 15 minutes later, and here's my second go:
What you can't see are that the final graphics are animated, so the eyes blink, gears spin, tools spark, etc. Super fun! And we all have Tessa C. to thank for the massive amounts productivity we're about to lose - or in my case, already have. ;)

I hope you guys are having a fun and steamy weekend! Today is our last day with my parents before they head home from their anniversary trip, so John and I will be out at the Magic Kingdom. Yeppers. CITRUS SWIRL HERE I COME.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Weekly Favs 4/11/13

Wow, so many goodies online this week! Let's get right to 'em:

MentalFloss put together an awesome post called The Faces Behind 31 Disney Villains, and it is so. cool:

Trust me, you're going to want to see the rest!

This sketch Katie Cook tweeted made me realize I am in dire need of some Rainbow Brite art:

SO SWEET.  Don't you just love Katie's style?

One of my most popular recent Pinterest finds:

Melt pony beads to make fun jewelry and hairclips! BRILLIANT. 
 Go check out the full tutorial at The 36th Avenue.

I finished my own play-through of BioShock Infinite this week, (YAY EASY MODE) and I'm already resisting the urge to start playing through a third time. (I watched John play the first time.) Can you say "addicted?"

Anyway, so of course I was beside myself to see Anna of Anna The Red has already made a custom Songbird plush!

She then gave it to Ken Levine, the game's lead writer/creator. You can see his reaction (plus tons more pics) over on Anna's blog.

I really want to make my own, even though I can't sew and know nothing about constructing plush dolls. (How hard can it be, right? Uh... right? Guys? Hello?)

I want to make mine out of pleather, though, since the game dolls look (to me) like they're made of leather:

(Anna made her doll before the game was released, and the reference art she had made it look more like gray & brown fabric.)

Soooo, any advice on techniques? Or where I might find a faux leather that looks kind of mottled/aged like that?

My parents are down this week for their big Disney Anniversary & Birthday Celebration, and are living large at the parks as I type this. I love hearing about all their little surprises and cast member interactions each day; wearing a 40th anniversary pin really gets you a lot of attention over there. :)

Anyway, we spent yesterday evening with them at Epcot, where I spotted the one and only lawn flamingo I've ever been tempted to buy:


Oh, and my folks keep calling Epcot Epbot, which is hysterical. MY EVIL PLAN IS WORKING. Mwuah-ha-haaa.

More Disney goodness courtesy of Julie A.: a tiny Jungle Cruise diorama!

This former JC skipper is thoroughly smitten. (I do miss the old striped awnings!)

See the pain-staking process shots over at Imagineering Disney.

And finally, Cheryl U. sent me this poetry performance after my Ren Fest post, and the last 20 seconds really hit me right in the gut. It's a kind of celebration of anxiety sufferers, if that makes any sense. NSFW due to several F bombs, but well worth getting the headphones out for:

"Because you can't be this afraid of losing everything
If you don't love everything first
Because you have to have a soul-crushing hope that things will get better
To be this afraid of missing it."

Like I said: right in the gut. Thanks again, Cheryl.

Hope you guys are having a great week! As always, feel free to share your favorite finds and creations here in the comments or over on the Epbot FB page.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easy DIY Industrial Pipe Shelving

Since "Industrial Chic" is all the rage in interior design these days, I thought I'd show you guys how easy it is to make and install the pipe shelving John and I used in our Steampunk Laundry Room:

I'll also tell you where I found the materials, since the wrong stuff can be super expensive at your local hardware store.

To give you an idea: John and I purchased all the pieces to make a single bracket from Lowe's, and the total was over $25. FOR A SINGLE BRACKET. And we needed five or six!

I was about to give up on my dream of pipe bracket shelving, but then I took to ebay, and after a lot of digging, I hit gold:

 Black Malleable gold, to be exact.

Yep, these pieces are called black malleable fittings and flanges, although you can rest assured they're not in the least bit "malleable." Some stores only carry galvanized iron pipe, which is a bright silver, and - get this - is more than double the price of black malleable.

So while it costs more than $10 for a single flange of galvanized iron, the same thing in black malleable is only about $4. Cha-CHING! (Not to mention I think the black version looks better!)

I couldn't find black malleable pipe at our local stores, but I did find an ebay seller who very nicely put together a custom listing of exactly what I needed for all five brackets, with free shipping, for fifty bucks. Ten bucks a bracket? Now THAT's more like it!

If you'd like to build the same brackets we did, then here's a handy cheat sheet.

For each shelf bracket, you will need:

(2) 3/4 inch flanges
(1) 3/4 inch elbow bracket
(1) 3/4 inch X 2 inch pipe nipple
(1) 3/4 inch X 5 inch pipe nipple
And this is the ebay seller I used, in case you'd like to buy from the same place. (Rest assured I don't get any kick backs or anything; just trying to save you some time, since it took me a while to find a seller who has all the parts I needed!)

Put them all together, and you get this:

Screw the flanges into a wall stud if possible, or use heavy-duty wall anchors. (We still have to paint over the screw heads, since you can see they're waaay too shiny.) Then use any old wood planking for the tops, or buy pre-cut shelves, and you're done!

Oh, and a quick safety tip: you'll probably need to clean your pipe pieces, since ours arrived with a fair amount of grease and a little rust on them, but be careful; the edges and seams are sharp. John sliced a finger while he was scrubbing, so he recommends wearing thick rubber gloves when you clean them.

I hope that was helpful, guys! And feel free to ask any questions in the comments, since I'm sure I may have missed something!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Let's Get Medieval!

No, this isn't a Game of Thrones post - sorry. ;)

Saturday John and I drove out to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, a massive outdoor event that opens shop for seven or eight weekends each year in Tampa.


There's live jousting, chess games with human chess pieces, carnival-type games that allow you to throw real throwing knives and axes, the highest per capita of corsets in the southern U.S., and lots and lots and LOTS of alcohol.
 I would say it's kind of like a convention, only with more dirt, sweat, and drunken carousing, but that really doesn't come close to capturing it. Ren Fairs are a unique phenomena all to themselves, and you kind of have to experience one for yourself.

Now, as a relatively quiet introvert who is easily embarrassed, I freely admit Ren Fairs are not my element. Everyone's so ... boisterous. There's lots of in-character shouting and challenges to duels and saucy propositions and barkers who'll call out to you and, well, interaction. With strangers. Heh.

That said, everyone's friendly and having a grand old time, and I fully realize I'm a big ol stick-in-the-mud. So even though I'm there strictly to gawk, I still have a good time from the sidelines.

The prettiest girl of the whole fair - and I'm not just saying that because she's wearing my favorite color. :) Isn't she stunning? 

I especially like the mix of attendees you get at a Ren Fair. There are equal parts hippies, goths, SCA enthusiasts, whole families, and everyday geeks and gawkers.


My camera failed to capture it, but that corset & skirt combo was STUNNING. The fabrics had this shimmer to them, and it was soooo pretty.

One area where Ren Fairs really shine is in the merchandise. The majority of the100 or so vendor stalls were filled with authentically handmade goods, and you could stop to watch glass blowers, glass forgers, sword smiths, leather workers, and more at their trades.

Heh. ("Honer"?)

Then there's the entertainment. There are something like 13 different stages set up around the grounds, with shows ranging from comedy to music to - I kid you not - mud wrestling. John and I have two favorites that we go to every year. Johnny Phoenix:

 Yeah, his show is kind of like that.

And the Washing Women:
These gals specialize in getting somewhat-willing men from the audience to do embarrassing things like this:

They also, well, pretty much molest the men way more than you'd think would be legal. They ripped one guy's shirt off, rubbed their hands all over another's chest and thighs, and licked this guy's bald head. A LOT. The good news (?) is the guys seem to find it hilarious, so s'all good. And when Pearl literally threw herself at this man, he not only played along, he took it further:

This culminated in a hilarious, faux-passionate kiss, followed by Pearl dumping an entire bucket of water over her own head. I honestly can't say if this show is a triumph or a blow to feminism, but DANG is it funny.

There's also plenty of more family-friendly fare, like this sword-fighting class that reminded me of the Pirate and Jedi academies at Disney:

And finally, there are the "street" performers: buskers who set out to amuse or amaze:

This statue guy is there every year. He looks pretty scary, but is surprisingly awesome with kids.

I think this contact juggler might be new:


Oh! And there was a mermaid tank!

For a dollar (I think) she'd dive down and fetch you a glass "gem." There was a huge crowd around, so it was hard to see, but all the little girls were clearly enthralled.

She made a trilling noise instead of speaking - a cute touch.

A few more random shots:

 All of the rides - and there were several - required a fair amount of manpower. Literally. :)
 (The tattooed guy would just push the "seahorse" back and forth.)

So many amazing, handcrafted costumes. It's a shame the glaring sunlight and dappled shade made a hash of most of my photos!

On our way out we saw the Maypole Dance:

 And that's it! 

Hope you guys enjoyed your virtual visit with us!


Oh, and since I mentioned it last post: my anxiety was fine at the Fair itself, but we had a bad time *getting* there. The whole hour plus drive was fine, but then the line of cars getting into the parking lot was backed up for miles, and for some reason being stuck in traffic is a major trigger for me. It's not rational, of course, but if I don't have the option of movement/escape at all times, I feel trapped. So anyway, I lasted maybe 10 minutes, I think (which of course felt like 30) but eventually my heart rate zoomed, the world spun, I wished for death, etc, etc.

I know I should be grateful car trips mostly don't bother me anymore, but it stinks that the second we hit traffic I start to freak out. It also makes me despair of my life ever being "normal" again, but I know I have to cling to hope and the knowledge that tomorrow will be a better day.

Anyway, John got us out of line and we parked about a mile away so we could walk in. It turned out that was *still* faster than waiting in the car line to park. We'll be remembering that for next year! Plus the walk was good for me to get my breathing and wobbly legs back under control.

We all have our broken bits, I know. I only mention this stuff to remind my fellow anxiety-sufferers out there that you're not alone, and you never will be. If nothing else, we can always be a little bit broken together. :)