Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: It's A Strange New World

Lot'a cobwebs in here... Miss me?

No? Darn.

The month's kind of got away from me; Instagram and Facebook have been my short and sweet links to the world; condensed socialization at the click of a button!
Not very personal, true... but without which I would be as invisible and clueless as I am in actuality. Well... who am I kidding, I'm not exactly bursting with popularity on any platform, heh!

Ok, we got off on a morose start...

It's the rain. Washington has been cold and constantly wet.
...I can just hear the 'duh's.

You know when you hear something you think is ludicrous so you choose not to believe it, and then you're left really unprepared for reality? That's it, that's what happened right here. I just didn't think it was going to be this much rain.
It's almost too much for me, and I would say I like the rain.
Not being able to wear my beautiful velvet coats, and cloaks or fancy shoes stings a little having looked so forward to cold weather to take them out of storage where they were when I lived in heat of the South... here I am with temperatures where I should be able to, but the wetness and mud keeps me in galoshes and a raincoat-- oh the irony.
Ok, I didn't really expect to wear summer dresses...
But you get the point.

One thing's for sure... with clouds this thick it makes midday light look a little like dusk for nearly weeks on end, it sure makes you appreciate a partially cloudy day.

Weather aside, everything else is darn near perfect. I am still rather gobsmacked we were able to afford to buy a decent home in this horrendous housing market... thank the gods for qualifying for a USDA home loan. Another thing I discovered not to be an exaggeration... people want gold prices for what is essentially 'fools gold' around these parts.
Of course there's still things that need to be updated and kept an eye on in our home... but not nearly as bad as outright foundation issues that plagued nearly every other home on our rather short list.
Foundation problems caused by... you guessed it, the constant rain (lol!).

I got a part time gig by sheer luck at an antique mall right in town and within walking distance owned by an introverted older gentleman and his extroverted 80+ year old foster father. I have one other colleague, an older lady whom is this insurmountable wealth of knowledge on niche and popular antiques; she is quite old fashioned as to be a bit shocking in this day and age... but I find to be quite pleasant.
My boss' foster father has given me the nick-name 'The Lady in Black' and will greet me as such each day. On occasion the boss buys us lunch and will often make sure that I and my colleague are comfortable and happy. I am getting feelings that remind me of my time in New Mexico, that I'm part of a family here-- I'm relied on, needed, and wanted. I didn't think I would be lucky enough to have this kind of work situation again after New Mexico. I feel blessed.

As one might have guessed, in the same manner that working a fabric store is dangerous for me... so is a vintage & antique store. I am tempted daily by a plethora of neat and pretty things; these are a few of the treasures I couldn't 'live without'... but so many are left behind!

So regardless of the ails of the weather, Washington has been (so far) a nice place to call home.

In other lesser but still mention-worthy happenings, a small back injury I suffered inspired my husband to finally replace my nearly 6 year old and very crooked computer desk and chair with a DXRacer in orange and black, and duo trayless widetop desks. I very nearly asked for the purple and black chair... but these days, I'm becoming more and more fond of orange as my compliment color.

We now live the typical 'gaming couple' setup, and as disgustingly cute as that sounds... it is.
I love it, haha.
In gaming related news, I finally got around to playing and finishing Divinity: Original Sin 2, a review may or may not come. It's not usual for me to review games... I really should. It's such a huge part of my life. It took so long from release for me to play it due to moving and other unrelated drama; sufficed to say, it's an incredible game totally worth every penny spent on it... and I went ahead and backed this on Kickstarter and got the collectors backing tier with a Fane statue and art books and maps. The first one easily became one of my 10 all time favorite games, the 2nd one just reinforced the series' status in my most loved gaming experiences.

Finally, the last bit of update I have...

I now sell on etsy through the name Strange Coven. It took me a while to get a name and brand going for my handmade shop: I really wanted something simple, easy to remember/lookup, but was still reflective of the 'sometimes spooky, sometimes spoopy' nature of my style. Two to three syllables is apparently what the human brain can remember with ease-- rule of thumb if you're trying to think of a shop name by chance.

Right now, I'm running a sale for 15% off all my ready-made items. On top of that, I'm running a giveaway for this little guy on the FB shop page.

I know they say that exposure is a poor thing for an artist to hope for... but the ground floor could use a little of that to get the ball rolling a little more, heh! Come show your support, and heck you may even get lucky.

That's it for now, fiends!
Spook ya later.


Outfit in first photo:
  • Dress: Handmade
  • Choker: Handmade
  • Pumpkin handbag: Handmade
  • Boots: Ironfist
  • Socks: Target
  • Hat: Gifted to me
Outfit in second photo:
  • Shirt: Walmart
  • Leggings: Walmart
  • Same handbag as first

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: 'Tis Near Halloween!

Samhain, all hallow's eve, Hallowe'en... our day is nigh, fiends!
Oh the joy to see so many jack o' lanterns littering the neighborhood-- even some that have already been smashed! A time honored tradition for the trickster spirits about, heheh.

My entire year felt like its lead up to October, much like it does every year, and with the big day on Tuesday, I already feel the withdrawals for the spooky season since shop shelves do become rather sparse in their decoration pickins' so close to the day of.
There isn't much left for me to buy anymore-- I did my spending though, but so little of it was on actual decorations for my home. This year my Halloween haul has been predominately fabric and though fabric does excite and entice me immensely, I feel the FOMO bug biting at my brain in terms of Halloween decorations...

While visiting the Dollar Tree in the next town for unrelated reasons, I stumbled onto what was left of their Halloween section.
It was a rather depressing sight, but I did manage to scrounge a few items that I then took to my half-processed creative laboratory for a bit of spooky crafty fun.

Foam feathered crow - check.
Fully functioning (these things rarely are) foam glitter light-up pumpkin - check.
Scraps of felt, lace and a doily from Michael's dollar section - check, check.

I cut out a cute lil' witch hat, and then glued it on it's head.

Now it's a cute lil' witchy crow.
If you decide to follow along with this little craft, you can at this point add anything else to the hat, but since I can't find anything but my scraps just yet... it'll go a little bare... for now.

Next, I mounted the witchy crow using the little wire pegs on its feet, onto pumpkin in a stately manner. Tied on this little scrap of ribbon around its neck like a scarf, plop the whole thing on top of the doily (because black doilies make everything better)... and voilĂ ! A decoration fit for leaving out all year long.

A stately little crow upon a bust of Lantern Jack.
Quoth the little crow, 'Tis near Halloween!'

Spook ya later, fiends!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mortem's Trick or Treats: To Be or Not To Be-- Craft-along + Giveaway!

Another home, another spooky sewing room to make my own!
One of my favorite things about moving is being able to rearrange and redecorate my creative living space.
Once again, I find myself with not just one but two rooms to house my hobbies-- one room for my machines and general craftery; the other room for my stash... because yeah, my stash really is that big.

The "store room" came in an ashy grey, and that is ok... for now.
Unfortunately, the machine room is where the paint job wasn't exactly a blank canvas.

The ceiling is painted in a high gloss black, 3 of the walls including the closet are painted a pastel purple, and the wall facing the rest was a deep pink accent wall.
I don't mind the purple, and I am keeping the black ceiling... but the pink had to go immediately.

I bought a gallon of Kilz, and luckily the previous owners had some leftover eggshell ultra pure white that I eliminated the pink with.

Unsurprising, it took almost the entire gallon of Kilz to neutralize that deep shade of not-my-favorite-color, but already the room became livable for me.
I dabbed the ceiling accidentally here and there, and weirdly it's the only mistakes among the plethora that can be seen on photo-- perhaps it's the white contrast on black... well the previous paint job is intensely sloppy. There are 2 colors on that edge... actually all edges even on the sills and frames that aren't turning up in the photo.
It's almost as if they decided to forgo painters tape... I have major amounts of retouching and scraping to do despite my own mistakes.

The wall remained an accent wall, but instead of being a solid color, I opted to stripe it-- black and white! How exciting that it should fit exactly into Bane's theme for this month's Craft-Along. I did make a submission for previous month's craft-along... but my move sort of prevented me from writing up a post for it; if you're following my IG account, you would have seen what I made and are perhaps waiting on that outfit and post. If I can only find the box they're all packed in...

Anyway, this was my first time painting a stripe wall... I think the concept of stripe walls was scarier than the doing, though to be fair, I did quite a lot of video research before I got to the doing. I bought a cheap laser level which made the process much much quicker and less messy. I also created a cardboard template, so that I could get nearly perfect spacing for my markings to set my laser on: I say nearly because I don't think each stripe is exactly 5.5 inches; there is very likely fractions of an inch differences to each, but it's very near the mark.

Since I was painting on a wall I only let cure for 24 hours, I went with delicate surface frog tape. I read that no matter what you buy or how much you try, some bleeding is inevitable; with that in mind, the best tip I read was prepping the inside of the stripe by painting a coat with your base paint just overlapping the inside and the tape to create a kind of bleed-barrier to prevent a lot of that; whatever bleeds heavily will be the same color as the base. You let that layer cure as per paint can instructions, and continue with your dark paint.

Another tip that everyone chimed in with is taking off the tape while the paint is still wet to get a cleaner finish. That said, my second coat went slower, as I worked 2 stripes at a time to move carefully around the wet paint.
All in all, I'm extremely happy with the result-- I didn't have any bad bleed spots on my stripes, many of them came out so clean I could have made one of those "satisfying" videos...

But like expected, some bleed did happen-- not very big, the biggest ones were no bigger than the head of a pin. I took a tiny dab of white base on an artists paint brush and it fixed them right up.

So now the question remains... what to do with the purple. Do I keep it? Or do I change it...

I'm assuming since the paint cans left are such, that I'm dealing with a Behr paint. This purple shade color wasn't in the pile left us. The color, I think, is either 'Foxglove' or 'Bohemianism' in semi-gloss.
Tough to tell... thinking more it's foxglove.

I do love purple, and I don't like doing this kind of painting (the act, not the result, heh!)... but I also really love the idea of a nice aged pumpkin orange to go with my vintage and retro decor that make up my signature spooky sewing room theme.

My two orange choices are 'Japanese Koi' or 'Mandarin'-- almost no difference, except mandarin is just slightly more pale.
I was going to go for a matte, but my husband convinced me eggshell would be more appropriate to go with the accent wall.

So, as of yesterday... I am completely undecided. I was so sure I was going to do the orange that I bought a couple sample tubs to play with on the wall... but gah, I went and overthought it.
I can't make the decision...

So I am going to leave it up to you, fiends!

And for your troubles, I shall offer a chance to win a little Halloween Treat Bag

With the spooky season still in full swing in my heart (regardless of those Christmas fanatics already revving up!), and having an October that also included a Friday the 13th, I'd say there's still lots of cheer to spread.
Help a fellow spook out, cast your vote and be entered to win this here surprise treat bag stuffed with all manner of spoopy, kitsch, and oh so delightfully Weeny goodness, including a handmade piece of spooky cute jewelry by yours truly and a couple knick knacks to entice a crafty spooky soul among the loot!

The Rules:
  1. You must be following my IG (@mari_mortem) and/or this blog.
  2. Comment on either post (via IG or on here) with your vote-- team purple or team orange. Receive an extra entry if you comment on both (please leave an identifier if you have different account names).

Winner drawn randomly on Oct. 31th, open world wide.
Good luck, fiends-- spook ya later!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Adventures In The Life of a Nomad: A Trip Essay.

Hello fiends,

I am writing to you from un-sunny Washington state. My new home, and a new opportunity to spook the locals.

What an adventure to get here.
It started off on a really bad foot. 

My black kitty Khan got rather sick on a Friday; acute low liver function the vet said, and he needed at least two over-night stays on IV-- the vets were fully aware of our impending move and were as concerned as I was about it all... this was just two days before we scheduled to set sail. Luckily it was a 24 hour vet care, with very good people.
It was no question to delay the date and hope the vets were able to do something about it. I put on every piece of lucky jewelry I could find; the stress was overwhelming with everything else on top, and I needed every last drop of hope I could muster. The movers came and packed everything away on the Sunday and morning of Monday; I was able to spend some time with the only person I spent frequent amounts of time with in SA on Tuesday (aka friend), which helped to ease some of the stress-- he took me on a quest to find a Starbucks that offered a pumpkin spice chai tea latte, odd that it was so tough to find.
On the Wednesday the vet called early in the morning and told us Khan was well enough to travel, but still not out of the woods-- they would check us out in the afternoon. An unbelievable weight lifted when I saw my Khan peppier than he was just a few days ago-- I thought I was going to lose him. But my happiness was somewhat dampened with the medications I had to give him and the warning that they may not do anything due to the stress he had ahead of him.

We were given a prescription pheromone cat spray for the car to help ease the stress-- it had to be used one hour prior to travel. So we brought Khan back to the house where Poe his older brother was eagerly awaiting him. We packed our little dodge dart, gathered the kittles and their things, crossed our fingers... and an hour later we were on the road.

Not two hours out of San Antonio city limits, and we started hearing a thud, thud, thud.
Low at first, but it got progressively louder and louder, and the car also gradually shook-- until it was so loud and shaking, my husband was white-knuckling the steering wheel and I grabbed my seat and grit my teeth. Both of us hoping to make it to a town with a mechanic.
We made it as far as San Angelo, booked a room in a very dicey La Quinta right beside a Midas that had just closed-- no other mechanic close enough for us to risk continuing driving the vehicle. We didn't know the extent of damage or how long it would take to fix, and the hotel no matter how dicey and dated it was, was fully booked... but the lady at the front desk seemed very sympathetic of our plight and gave us the latest check out date they could feasibly do under such last-minute-over-booked circumstances.

First thing in the morning, my husband went off to Midas before they even opened, and I tasked myself with pilling Khan...
Pilling a cat that is stressed while you're very stressed yourself is the hardest thing you'll ever have to do. Khan refused EVERY. SINGLE. METHOD to pill him; not stuffing it in food, not syringing it into his mouth as a liquid, and just barely being able to open his mouth long enough to put the pill in the back of his throat; he was somehow able to bring it back front and spit it out several times-- he fought me with every ounce of zeal from a cat named Khan.
I was bitten and scratched and close to tears, having called my MIL who was a vet volunteer (once upon a time) for verbal help. One pill was successfully downed, and we decided he might have got enough of the pill he absolutely hated to equal the half dose he needed. So I gave up for the day.

On the car front, my husband phoned me with the news we had a tire bulge, and we were lucky we didn't get in a serious accident driving as long as we did doing highway miles. The good news was that it wasn't going to take long; we decided to just go ahead replace all four tires, so they would wear evenly... and for good measure, since we had several days left of the trip.
When we checked out, another lady at the counter was apprised of our situation and had prepared little care packages for our checkout. Water bottles for the kittles, and double chocolate cookies for us. They helped.
After the morning debacle, we stopped by a neighborhood Walmart since Khan would eat only tiny amounts of his kibbles-- I thought I would get a few varieties of wet cat foods to pique his appetite a little more. Out of the 8 choices I brought him, he scarfed down Purely Fancy Feast-- I wasn't too happy buying a Purina product, but I was desperate to get my babe eating normally again and these had very decent reviews and minimal ingredients and were very accessible along our long route.

The cat spray seemed to work by the second day of the trip-- the cats weren't nearly as fussy, and we were able to make a push to New Mexico, where we stopped for a night in Artesia and Carlsbad to visit with friends we made while we lived here. I miss New Mexico so much-- I believe it's the closest I felt at home since my momma's house back in Canada. If the move to San Antonio didn't happen, I can see myself growing roots in this state.

We stayed in yet another La Quinta, but this one far fancier.
We left New Mexico without a hitch. My hubby helped pill Khan in the morning, just slightly less of a struggle than before, but hey no scratches that time. His appetite visibly grew, he ate more kibble and again snarfed down the Fancy Feast.

By the third day, they seemed to already get used to spending a night in a strange room and spending long hours in the car. Each time, settling quicker and quicker into their "spots"; Khan in his little bed in the back seat, and Poe at my feet in his, napping till our next stop.

Arizona; where it all began for us.
Again we stopped in another of our old towns to visit with the friends we had while living here, in Holbrook.
We had breakfast for dinner at Denny's and spent the evening chatting and catching up; by moonlight, I visited an old secret I left out in the desert just months before moving from this town, the stick I used as a marker still stood, but a bush had begun growing over top of it.

The secret of what lies underneath is known only to myself, my husband and my good friend (and perhaps a couple more people, hah!)-- all who helped. One day, when the timing is right, it will be unearthed and revealed...

At the crack of dawn, it was back to the road again, bound for Utah.

From here on, it was all new territory for this family. The sights in Utah were incredible! It made me wish I lived in this beautiful state!

We passed beautiful red canyons, and vast rolling hills full of trees of all kinds of magnificent and brilliant colors. The views gave the Grand Canyon a run for its money! They took my very breath away.

Here we made our largest push test with the cats, and headed for Salt Lake City. Our start was a little rocky, I got a little car sick when we hit Winslow, Arizona, and the chilled air was a little hard on me in Page, Arizona-- we made a few stops and I bought a few sweaters and meds.
We reached the city by nightfall, and the cats were starting to get a little anxious, but overall seemed ok-- so in other words, success!

We stayed in yet another La Quinta (only place that was cheap and didn't ask for a pet deposit), but this time there must have been a dog show or something, because there were a lot of people on our floor with fancy dogs. The cats were on edge all night with all the borking and howling. Somehow, we slept through it all.

Next morning, we were Idaho bound.

At first the sights were something to behold, I had never seen so much gold and hills in my life... but by the second hour of nothing but, I started to feel panicked. Northern Utah and pretty much all of Idaho is nothing but rolling golden hills and open sky... with literally no real variation, and we cut through the entire state.

We were going to stay in Boise, but we decided to try and push it to Oregon, since we had a lot of "juice" in us from such a long boring trip. We stopped to refuel in Nampa, we spent a few moments in the gas station and as we were ready to leave... the car wouldn't start.
The battery had apparently died.
I guess if it was to happen, we were lucky it was at a gas station still relatively in town as opposed to being out in the open solitude of the country side...
We called our insurance and they sent people to jump our car an hour later, and again we were counting our lucky stars that there was an Auto Zone open nearby, so we could test and buy a new battery and be on our way.
At the Auto Zone, a woman came running up to us frantic; I didn't understand what she was crying and afraid of, but I let her use my phone. After she called someone several times, she returned my phone and before I could offer any more assistance she darted off in some kind of frenzy.
Some sketchy looking dudes came rolling up in an equally sketchy vehicle, and when they stepped out billows of smoke came out with them.
They eyed me up, and paced around the walkway near where we parked. I had my assisted-opening knife at the ready in my back pocket, and put on my bitchiest bitch face while my hubby installed the new battery.
I gave them a nod, and they left us alone... and soon we were on our way again.

So, Oregon. I don't know what to think of you now. I had always heard of your endless beauty... but I was greeted with loads and loads of roadside garbage. Just look at the stateline sign location, haha!
We decided to go as far as La Grande and call it a night. The town was actually very quaint, so it made up for it a little... except we had to stay in a very shabby looking Rodeway Inn. I was worried about the cleanliness, but it turned out ok. Sheets were awfully gaudy but the beds were clean. Good enough I suppose.

We were all quite pooped from the day. It didn't take long for all of us to fall asleep; this was our last stop till our new home! The Inn offered a continental breakfast surprisingly, which again I wasn't sure about-- they didn't have a dining room, you literally sat in metal chairs in the tiny room-sized lobby... but they had frosted flakes, and I was craving them so it made for a great breakfast, heheh.

Since we had driven to La Grande, it made our final push a small one, the state line came so fast I barely had time to snap a shot of it! Plus it was on a bridge and it was tiny to boot.
By the time we hit Seattle, we were all feeling antsy-- full of anticipation and excitement!
Up until a few days ago, I hadn't personally seen our new home! I entrusted my husband to find a house that would suit our needs. I realize now that I put a lot of trust in him, more than I really realized I did haha!

The house was perfect, though, in a town located Northeast of Mt. Vernon which is one hour North of Seattle.
I felt home, and that's a feeling I never really fully got while I lived in Texas.

It's certainly chilly here, I must say! My new creative laboratory boasts two windows-- our home being a nice corner lot and all. Perfect for sun-bathing, as Khan can be seen here enjoying! Perfect for sewing at all hours of daylight available. I get it all!
Khan and Poe are both doing very well still and settling in beautifully. We're busy busy unpacking and making our home look as much as a home as it feels!

Next post will be all about building my new creative laboratory!
Till then, my fiends,
Spook ya later!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mortem's Trick or Treats: For The Love of All That Is Spooky.

Ahh fall. Glorious isn't it?

I feel the shifts, like cosmic strings tugging at my being. I feel renewed, and I am welcoming of change.
That doesn't mean much in the way of weather in the places I've been living at since moving to the U.S.
That is, until this wonderful October. I'm moving again.

My new home will be in a small town in beautiful overcast (but still four seasoned) Washington state.
It also means I'll be much closer to the border of my homeland--so close to the border in fact I could take a little drive and have dinner in Vancouver city if I were so inclined, and I just may because ever since I discovered Japadog's existence several years back, I have been dying to try them.
My new home is still unfortunately about a 10 hour drive to my hometown, though... but 967 km beats the over 3000 km I was/am.
This also marks the 4th state in 5 years I'll have lived in. Pretty crazy-- for someone who lives a life indoors... I lead a surprisingly nomadic life.

So, at the time of writing this I am a little over a week from my move date; we'll be driving all the way up and it's roughly a 5 day drive at best.
I decided to say good bye to San Antonio and my current version of my creative laboratory with one final project to hold me off till I can get my new lab set up.
Since I am altogether saying so long to the South, I decided it should be with a great big bang... and what better way than with a little Hallowe'en cheer?

I made a jack o'lantern bag!
I have been after the original ones for about a year; every time I have money and think about getting one, there is none available and being a fabric/craft addict that I am I promptly spend that liquid cash on feeding my addiction. When they do have them available, I am such as I am now-- pinching every dollar in my pocket.

Well I had about enough of coveting one, and a round purse isn't terribly difficult to figure out... though the bottom piece did give me some grief.

I have a deep and difficult love for vintage faced pumpkins-- they have round eyes and sharp jagged teeth. Whenever I see one, a switch is flipped in my head and I become fevered with lust for that which triggered the desire. It's not always a pretty sight for my wallet. So I drew from that inspiration for the face of my lovely little 'treat' bag.

I had at first considered the possibility of using a vinyl for my material, but I was never able to locate any in the shade I wanted. I did have in my stash a home dec weight velvet that I honestly can't recall the purpose for its acquisition-- and for some reason it looks far more red in my photos than the muted autumn maple color that it truly is (color identification courtesy of Mutant Stomps Pantone fall colors guide).

Spider web lace not shown*
The candy print cotton was a purchase I made from this year's haul of halloween fabrics (I'll make a post of my loot some other time). The candy print was always intended for the bag because these bags reminded me more of candy buckets... and what kind of candy bucket shall I have if it didn't have some 'candy' within? This particular print however wasn't always due for this bag, I had another one from several halloween's ago, from the time I lived in Arizona, that I was going to use... that wasn't a cheap purchase, and not to mention it's out of print now-- so I chickened out at the last minute. This one is $4 per yard and it's from Walmart, so it was a formidable substitution.

My intention for this bag wasn't to make it overly complicated-- simple, but unique to that of the rest. And to think back on it, I think it would have turned out that way... if fate hadn't intervened...

I had previously worked on a small project and hadn't gotten around to putting everything away after I wiped the table down (shame, shame...), so I had a scrap of spiderweb lace and a bottle of glow paint staring me in the face, seducing me with promises of a prettier bag. I took the bait... and oh the delight.

It is with this project that I also got to try Pellon's version of Annie's soft & stable: their fusible flex foam. It's been on the market for quite some time now, but I had enough Annie's in my stash to last me a while. What I have left is promised to a messenger tote I am making my mother.

It's certainly cheaper per yard than Annie's, but the adhesive they used leaves a lot to be desired. I noticed, now that my bag is done, the back panel is coming up in places... it's rather annoying since it's quite unsightly.

I don't think I've ever used so many different weights in one single project ever. To my count, it's 5 different types! Overall I'm quite pleased with the stability of my "prototype".

The bow was always part of my original intent, what I hadn't decided until last minute was that it was to be a bat wing bow-- anything seems to be made better with bat wings! I very carefully hand-stitched the bow onto the bag, as I wasn't confident simply gluing it on, though being that it was pvc it might have actually held onto the velvet really well. I spent so many hours just hand basting much of it in place. If I hadn't I'd fear for my sanity, what with the different kinds of materials alone in this bugger.

The striped pipping was another detail I decided on adding as a lark. I had so many scraps from this dress I made a couple years back. I don't remember there being so much, but when I went digging for pieces to make a plain black pipping, I discovered the pile of varying sized chunks. I found a front bodice piece that was just large enough to square off and create a decent length of binding from. Weird, but fortuitous-- it completed a nice retro feel.

Why are you so red?! And why did I leave the shoulders collapsed?!
The bag's size turned out a little bigger than anticipated, but roomy is never a bad thing for a bag isn't it? I might have to redraft this bag to something a little more manageable for everyday wear. It makes a superb carry on though. I made sure to have pockets in it, including a zippered one for things that shouldn't bop around like my lip balm and keys. The other two pockets are for my wallet and phone, so they too don't jingle around, or get scratched up. This is where the spider web printed material (not the lace) came in, I contrasted all the pockets with it. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite seem to grab a decent enough photo of the pockets except the one shown below-- which still isn't that amazing. I will keep trying and edit this post when I do, though!

The bag turned out to be quite a grand labor of love, and I really couldn't be happier with how it came out. It turned out better than the preliminary sketches-- I love it when that happens! I poured my passion for Hallowe'en straight into the design.

I used glow paint to hand paint in little details on the sides; they're not so obvious by day, unless you're actively looking for them; the lace overlay keeps them quite hidden. Darkness really brings out the best of this bag, as it tends to do for us darklings-- we who bump in the night!

Glow paint! It's the medium of Gods; it's my favorite addition to this bag... I want glow paint to be my signature touch, my bread and butter, my forte-- holosexuals, meet your match... phosphorescensexuals.
Ok, it's a mouthful... but it'll catch on, I swear!

Anyway, I haven't had much of a chance since completing it to actually wear it out and it's been raining pretty unpredictably to get good enough shots modeled outdoors... maybe I can snag one soon, so I can have a completed outfit to show off.

Until then, spook ya later, fiends!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: 10 Things I Wish I Knew.

There was a discussion I read that I thought might be a fun topic to think about and write about here; it was a '10 things you wish you knew when you first started sewing'. Being that I am almost completely self taught, it's safe to say I wish I knew a lot of things. Most especially now.

The history of my sewing background is long and a little complicated but to make a long story short: I was sewing on and off since I was 10, mostly hand sewn doll clothes and little repairs to my own clothes. I didn't tackle a wearable garment till I was 14 when my mother bought me my first machine, an Omega. The serger I own was always in my life (it's older than I am-- my parents bought it new), but I never used it until a few months after getting my Omega; I didn't really understand it's full purpose, so how could I even use it effectively? Heh.
When it came to sewing my mother knew only how to hand sew, which she taught me, but after that I was on my own. Consequently, I spent a lot of time at the library, maybe more than I did at my machine... but everything I learned, I still learned the hard way despite those long hours with my nose in a book... surely one can write an essay on the lesson of theoretical vs. practical knowledge using 'teaching yourself to sew from books' as evidence.

So if there were 10 things I could tell myself at the beginning? Well, in no particular order...

1. Keep your measurements up to date and accurate.
Taking proper measurements is time consuming, and making sure to take your time to do it right and do it at least once a month makes it tedious. I still have a hard time making myself do it, but I do know better now. I will on occasion head onto projects willfully ignorant every now and again, heheh. Whereas when I began, many projects were dubiously "successful"-- mostly out of pure luck.
I use this template I created now, popped it in a glass picture frame and use dry erase markers, now I have a no-waste reference sheet always available.

2. Don't skip hand basting 
Once I didn't skip this tedious little task, the quality in my sewing sky rocketed. Everything was more accurately placed, with far less warping and puckering, not to mention painless to sew.When you're dealing with a lot of layers, or delicate and slippery ones... pins just don't suffice for accuracy. 
Even when you're sewing over pins (which I used to be guilty of, but don't anymore), there's still a considerable margin for error between each pin.
Always use contrasting thread, because you should always be taking it out afterwards.
It does suck to do and it's time consuming... but again, worth it-- a couture standard and for good reason. 

3. Take ergonomics seriously
When you're young, you feel invincible, but... that's pretty far from the truth. Bad lighting, bad posture, no preventative gear... it catches up. Especially when you're enjoying yourself.
Thimbles, chair cushions, extra lamps, wrist supports... these are a few of the things that will cut down fatigue and strain that cause aging to suck ass. 

4. Develop the habit of finishing your garment properly
I confess, I didn't line my garments for a very long time (but I always finished my seams!). It's kind of tough working backwards, that much is true. I wish I started learning this much sooner than when I did actually start. I think it's invaluable in learning the fundamentals in garment construction-- there's something to be said about learning something, and doing it backwards to ensure you understood what happened. Pathways in the brain open up!!
Plus, it's impressive looking as hell... heh. 

4. Don't "Cut on the fold"
I have always been one to make copies of my patterns to keep the original intact, but one thing that took me a long time to get into the habit of was mirroring those 'cut on fold' pieces into whole pieces. Cutting on the fold is a somewhat troublesome habit that pattern companies reinforce. The reason pattern companies do this is to make it easier to save on fabric, and to save on the tissue they print on... but you'll soon learn that it's not always possible, and no good has ever come from cutting corners. If you're keen on matching your print or you need to be especially conscious of your seam allowances, piles, grains, bias... basically anything (lol)... save yourself headaches and heartache by just doing the extra step.
In the photo above, you'll notice I still write in the cutting instructions; sometimes I mirror after I finish copying all the pieces, as a reminder to go back and mirror pieces. Later that will be erased.

6. Pay Attention to Grain lines. 
Seems like a no-brainer... but since I was so stingy with my fabric at first, I preoccupied myself on how much material I could save rather than pay attention to the placement of my pieces on the fabric. Cutting your material along different grains can severely warp your final product, but it won't be obvious until you try and wear it and it's not fixable mistake. Usually the material's selvage works as a guide to find your grain lines, but sometimes mystery fabrics happen and in that case research is key!

7. Be patient with mock ups, and use a material closest in drape as your 'good fabric'
If something is not working during the mock up stage, continue to work on it till it does and never mix weights; a cotton muslin material doesn't drape the same way silk crepe de chine does, and as tempting as it is to use because of how cheap it is per yard, it's not a good idea if you're looking to gauge how the fit or fixes will look as the crepe de chine...

8. Learn and apply pressing and ironing techniques and tools
Another one for the finishing technique pile but can stand on its own. Nothing looks more sloppy and more obviously homemade than an unpressed project-- it's not always needed, but it's important to learn when, where and how it should be done. I once heard someone say that an iron is as important as the sewing machine. At the beginning, I would laugh at such a statement... and now, I nod my head in agreement so fast I could sprain it.
There are almost as many tools and ways to press a garment during the construction process, as there are steps to constructing any garment... Above are just some of the 'basics'. Makes my head spin! 

9. Use and transfer pattern markings.
My very first self pattern drafts did not include a single marking, so I was unable to learn or discover any mistakes I made. I learned my lesson even harder going into commercial patterns, because without transferring the markings or even understanding why they were there to begin with, meant any attempt I made at alteration a futile one.

10.Keep Your Space Clean.
I know, ground breaking concept, heh.
Seriously, though, I think of my space much like I think of a laboratory-- hence why you'll often see me referring to my creative space as a "creative laboratory". You're dealing with a lot of things that, as funny as it is to think, can cause bodily harm. If not to yourself than perhaps a curious paw or tiny hand... You might be dealing with some substances that can destroy hours of work; like excess machine oil or grease that wasn't cleaned up properly... and suddenly you find an unsightly stain on that finished dress made up of out of print fabric in a very unfortunate and visible spot...
Shit happens, best prevent it as much as possible.


I guess the real lesson here is take your time, and your sewing will reward you. One well made garment is worth 100 crafted pieces of mediocrity. Even if one simple blouse takes you days... that's really ok, as long as you're taking away something from the experience.
There's comfort that with enough dedication and time, speed is an eventuality.
Find and know your way before you attempt short cuts; they can be so very seductive... but in the beginning, they can only be reductive.

So those are my ten, good luck to any future sewist out there.

Spook ya later!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mortem's Trick or Treats: A Time For Recouping.

It's been rough these past couple of weeks. Physically that is.
I have been fighting a small injury to my hip, that although small, nevertheless kept me from my usual freedoms. After I healed from that, I was stricken with a bad allergy attack that made my eyes swell up shut. After I took enough antihistamines to get them open it was just a matter of waiting and medicating for the rest of my body to follow suit...

Still, despite all of it, recovery time did offer me a moment to finish some smaller projects I kept putting off and of course writing on my blog-- that's why I have been so very active online, hehe.
Now that I'm mostly back to relative normality, I took the chance to model out a pair of overalls I finished before the allergy attack.

This was the project I had even earlier set aside to work on my version of McCall's 6503.
It was while I was deciding what to do for embellishments on this project that my path took me to the dress. After that struggle, a little break afterwards, and I guess the bruised hip (lol) I was able to finally get back to it.

This is McCall's 7547 in view C; the overall shorts.

Always wanted me a pair of velvet overalls, and now I finally have them-- with a few modifications.
And modifications there are a few of...

To start, I omitted side seams and any zippers or the connected waist bands that were originally designed with the pattern. In their place I used grommets for lace up details, and double sided button tabs to ensure they stay together-- in case unlacing should somehow occur.

Next, I added some pleather gear/cog appliques... though it would appear this idea was kind of a bust. They were meant to be more pronounce. I may add decorative rivets in order to accentuate the design, but I'm not sure I want to use the amount I would require for a substantial difference to be made. These appliques are placed on the bottom left front and the back right on the pocket.

I would give this a solid 'meh'.
Perhaps if I had not went with double textured materials, it might have panned out better.

The button tabs were things I had to draft in myself, though as you might imagine, not very difficult to do.

I took a portion of the original waist pattern piece and arrowed it off.
The method might have been easy, but the decision to use them wasn't; this new design feature. I bounced the idea around among buckles or snaps. None seemed more neutral in the end to any future belts I may wear than fabric covered buttons, since I kept the original belt loops in the design.
Lucky I had some button making kits in my stash leftover from making my bat dress.

My biggest revelation while making this up was the use of fabric glue. I know, sounds like a no-brainer to a crafter.
Once I did scoff the use in garment construction, because hand basting was more than sufficient, and glue can have rather unsightly effect on the finish, if you're using liquid glue or a strong enough stick glue. I use it all the time in my millinery and other accessory related craft... but during this, I wasn't in the mood to baste every seam in this to make it sit right.

Stick glue never liquid for basting
See, I don't have a velvet board; a tool used to press/iron velvet without affecting the pile adversely. It's also very expensive, and the sole reason I don't yet own one.
Fluffy towels are said to be a good substitute, but I don't have fluffy towels. It left me puzzling over what I could do to get the cooperation I desired when pins were too cumbersome for accuracy.

I bought this fabric glue pen to experiment in my millinery (brand: June Tailor), but the application was far too light for those purposes. Kind of an ah-ha moment.
A quick swatch test, and doors of possibilities opened.
I was able to make the straps and work under finite seam allowance with ease, all thanks to fabric glue basting; the pen applicator was acutely responsible for the level of handiness.

Pattern Overview:

  • The finished garment produces a close fitting/fitted pair of overalls, worth it to note for those looking for a loose fit. With major and complicated tweaks, the possibility is there. 
  • Front top pocket is not originally intended for View C, this is an optional piece for this view.
  • If you're using a material with not a lot of thickness, like I did, make sure you're reinforcing and adding an interfaced thick layer where the dungaree buttons will be installed.
  • It should be mentioned that originally the pattern has a side zipper closure, and a working front fly. I wanted neither.
  • Comes together very easily, though I suggest paying close attention to how you finish your seams and reinforce stress points; the crotch, corners of pockets, the point where the straps are attached, as well as front and back bibs along the waist.
So despite my resting witch face, I am very pleased and relieved with the outcome. I barely tested for fit, except for mocking up just the bottom portion and trying that on once, I didn't put them on again until I was fully finished. Kind of a gamble, especially considering the material-- velvet ain't the cheapest material on the market, most especially a quality crushed velvet that isn't stretch and doesn't look super costumey.

Until next time, fiends.
Spook ya later!


Top: Handmade-- Simplicity 8386
Necklace: Handmade
Boots & Hat: Ardenes and Ebay

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