Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall.

Things are quite a mess right now.
I truly feel like I'm trying to salvage a giant egg that went splat with a loud smack.

The entire month went by with some really high highs, to mids, all the way to the bottom... where I am currently since hearing today that our move is no longer going to happen.
As if that wasn't enough, life decided to toss in some salt and lime to rub all over that wound.

This crap-cake in a nutshell?
We have to cancel the apartment we found-- a few hundred lost right off the top. I quit my job under the pretense that we were moving-- lost entire supplementary income-- can't get it back because it's apparently doing really bad now and can't rehire anyone. We now have word that my husband has to go on furlough for two weeks before the end of July-- there goes an entire main income check. Meanwhile debts, and bills still need their regular monthly pay.

And now for the cherry. They are sending my husband to DC for a week, for some training which conveniently sits on the day of our very first wedding anniversary.

I know we should've been saving every penny, but before all this was confirmed we figured we could use some of my very meager last pay to brighten up our spirits a little; a new game for him, a new tool for me. I was quite surprised how quickly it came; it was shipped on Tuesday, and arrived today.

I bought a new in bag, solid 2 lbs. vintage clapper and point press snatched up on ebay. I paid a little under the price they usually go for on their own on ebay (about $35.00 U.S.), but I found it listed along with all these extra treats and with free shipping...

Irresistible, especially to kitties...
7 lbs. of random trims and ribbons. Quite the bargain, if I do say so myself. A very welcome replacement to the shoddy "integrated" one from my tailor board.

As most of you know, my husband is one of my only sources of human contact. Next is my neighbor, but I don't usually get to see her during the week. Hopefully I can keep from going insane during the week he's gone.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tales of Trial and Terror: Displaying My Green Underbelly-- Playing Hairdresser

A few weeks ago, my friend & neighbor has entrusted and charged me with two vintage photo shoots of her including styling and make up. I've discovered I have quite a knack for hairstyling on another person. On myself? Ehhh... not so much. Out of respect, I won't be exhibiting the photos on my blog, but let me just say that she looked absolutely stunning.

Anyway, we went to the local dollar store recently, and bought a few odds and ends for future shoots.
I decided to use some of those on myself, in an attempt to do something with my hair...

The Equipment

The sponge curlers, sectional clips, and pin curl clips are the newest doodads.

The Setup

I went with a dry set; shooting for the most difficult path for my own hair... go figure. I am always choosing the path fraught with peril.
The setting stage actually looked cute, so why not do some domestic-pin-up inspired pose?

The Result...

Less than successful, I ended up with these crusty lop-sided curls that triumphantly displayed how absolutely green I really am with stylizing myself. It started hissing once I busted out the brush...
As all of you as my witness', I will eventually learn to tame my own locks!

Who will win this battle of wits?! Stay tuned till the next episode of...
Tales of Trial and Terror!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Skeleton Closet: New Look 6078 Pattern Review + Outfit Post

After a decidedly frustrating time working through my mock up, the final blouse didn't actually take long to finish up; approximately the entire length of Klimt from my Netflix instant queue (which by the way was a little underwhelming for being inspired by such a great artist)...

I guess that's not the only underwhelming thing... I feel a little underwhelmed by the blouse after completion--perhaps it's because of the strenuous effort it took to get to the finish line.
Because of this blouse, I had to buy and improvise many tools; my paper tape dress form, and seam roll for example.

In retrospect, this blouse didn't really need that much work, but I am a terrible stickler for finished details; for my own peace of mind, it was done; I don't like a homemade appearance in my own work.

Of course, I'm not so anal that after said work was done I ended up taking a nap while wearing the blouse, and afterwards deciding to take these photos... it's quite wrinkly on the back. Heh.

The fabric is on the sheer side, so an undershirt is a necessary aspect to this outfit; it's far more see-through than one would expect; it makes a great start to a new summer wardrobe.

This was also a chance to try out the button sewing function of my sewing machine-- I didn't feel like hand stitching 9 buttons, and without a simflex, it would probably have turned out much more off than it is now...

Dangit, I really wish I had a simflex...
In the above picture, you can really tell the button plackets don't exactly align, but luckily, now that I know how to use a button attachment it won't be so daunting fixing it.

 Here are my final notes on the construction of size 14 of the pattern, in no particular order:
  • Bust dart needed about a 3 cm raise from original position, and a 2 cm increase in length
  • Took in upper bodice pieces by a few cm total.
  • Front darts decreased in width by about 2.5 cm
  • Finish bottom seam, and reverse placket installation from instructions; makes a far cleaner right side.
  • Baste on placket before attaching collar-- you can get a better gauge at where your collar should be sitting at. Remove basted placket after pinning collar; sew collar on.
I am very pear shaped, meaning my bust is small, and my hip area huge. These alterations are meant to accommodate my shape, but I found that the collar would likely need adjustments in any size because it's so terribly drafted, as well as how the instructions tell you how to insert your button plackets.

What I am wearing:
  • Top: Self-made from New Look pattern 6078
  • Shorts: Second hand
  • Boots: K-mart

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Working Through The Mock

View D/E
Well my dear readers, after a long intermission I began sewing again; the New Look blouse patterns to be exact.
...Where to begin...

Firstly, New Look is exactly what rumors say they are; a badly drafted pain in the butt.
Secondly, I'm still very unsatisfied with my alterations... but then, this is a mock up, and as they go, they're meant to highlight the problems.
And finally... this fabric was also playing on my nerves. It refused to stay ironed at the darts; I need a bit of starch.

The blouse isn't technically complete, as you can see I haven't placed in any buttons; the puckering at the plackets is due to the pins in place.
One of the most consistent complaints is that the collar is the most frustrating part to deal with because in all the sizes it is far too awkward-- indeed, I think my blood pressure went up a few digits just dealing with that portion and getting it to lie perfectly.

Of course, having curved rulers makes this process a tad easier than if you were doing it any other way...

I think my own biggest issue was the entire bodice portion; front and back. My figure is heavily pear shaped, so all  the darts needed (and still do) to be tweaked and adjusted quite a bit. In a nutshell, I had to lift the bust dart 2 cm from their original location and increase by 2 cm. I had also taken in some of the bodice at the side seams nearly 4 cm, but as I think and observe on it some more, it seems as though it was still insufficient near the upper portion.

Center crease-- ironed 6 times on highest heat setting-- an example of how stubborn cotton broad cloth can sometimes be
This blouse is also a hell of a lot longer than I expected it to be; as you can see it nearly covers my form entirely! But I think that is purely because I am vertically challenged.

The sleeves were probably the easiest part of this entire endeavor; they needed no alterations. I'm very pleased by how they look!

I am going to be adding some cherry red buttons to this blouse... and then find a home for it; the color isn't exactly my "thing".

Pattern cover.
In the end I deem this pattern still doable, but you definitely need a little more than the average sewing savvy under your belt to undertake it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Make-shift Monday

There isn't much to update upon since my last entry, but rather than let more days go by without a post I decided at the very least I'd share some of my recent improvisations.

When I first received my machine, I desperately lacked many of the gadgets and gizmos that made sewing that much more easier; I make-shifted a large spool caddy using a cutting board holder, at first. Despite taking up tons of room behind my machine, it served me well, but now I needed a change.

After some deliberating, I came to the conclusion that a paper towel holder would best serve as the majority basis of the overall design of this simple but profoundly useful item. I took some wire and fashioned a hook onto a cast iron holder. It worked out quite well; I bought these holders from the dollar store.

Eventually I'll get around to replacing the silver wire with a more suitable black one; it looks quite lovely now behind my machine, and takes up far less space!

Meanwhile, I admit that I haven't yet been able to create my own personalized pressing loafs/rolls yet precisely because I haven't found wool fabric that has won my enthusiasm. I don't suspect I will either any time before the fall/winter season, when an abundance of such material in the plethora of patterns and colors is readily available. It is for this reason I also avoided sewing articles that needed precision pressing; my anal nature will prevent any satisfaction for a completed garment that hasn't gone through the "proper protocol."

Purple yarn is definitely desirable... just used for comparison

But thankfully my improvisational nature finally kicked in; I fashioned myself a pressing roll using a large skein of less than desirable synthetic yarn wrapped in cotton. It's just safety-pinned together, but its large circumference makes it quite accommodating; a sufficient compliment to my tailor's board. I know that eventually the yarn will collapse because of its synthetic make-up, hopefully I can find pretty wool fabric before then... it's the only thing left needed to begin.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Skeleton Closet: Humpty Dumpty Sat On A Wall...

I know looks can be deceiving, but I'm quite usually very stoic. I haven't really considered myself the type of person that is prone to fits of rage, so when I am raging you can be quite certain that it's been a subject that is long standing.

Although the hub and I are more optimistic than pessimistic, the source of my rage has been some recent news (literally a day after we signed papers for our new apartment--great timing!) of a new policy that was brought into light that may or may not get in the way of our move. In other words, there's a possibility that we'll be staying right where we are for a while. The idea of staying longer in a place that not even family desire to come visit is unbelievably disheartening.

So instead of packing, we're waiting... and waiting... and waiting...

Meanwhile, I've been doing something about the distinct lack of storage and shelving in my life.
I found a small plank of wood while on my way to the hardware store for my dress form, and turned it into an impromptu solution to my scissor storage:

It's mountable on the wall, but since I don't want to place anymore holes in the wall (the move may still happen!) I haven't done so. You don't need a drill to do something like this, hell I didn't, just a lot of elbow grease and a bit of hardware.

What I am wearing:
  • Top: Thrifted
  • Skirt: Self-made
  • Waist belt: Fairweather Co.
  • Choker: Self-made

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spooky Basket: The "New and Improved" Tailor's Board by Dritz

As promised, my first sewing related product review!
And I'm sorry to say it's not a rave, but a total rant...

Not too long ago, Joann's began selling Dritz's new and improved tailor's board for a whopping $49.99. Naturally, since this item is a rare and expensive commodity on it's own, I squealed when I saw that this version by Dritz also boasted an integrated clapper; the price of a clapper is roughly the same as the board itself, so it looked like a deal.

I'm not prone to impulsive buying of tools without first doing research on them, but I had a 50% coupon that was a day from expiring so I jumped at the chance to buy one of these from; there wasn't any way I could make time for a visit before that expiration date. So then it was just a matter of waiting...
I was attempting to research during this time, and not finding a speck of information on it-- not a single review, a post, nothing!

I began to get a little worried.

Finally when my package came, it was all clean and pretty on the outside... but as soon as I opened it and emptied the contents, the box in which the board came in was torn and battered looking-- like they had just beaten the old box and packed it in a new one. I took the board pieces out and discovered that the screws were all missing; it was lucky that we had enough properly fitting screws at hand.

That started me off really sour and contemplating returning it...
As soon as I began assembly, I began seeing the real sour grapes to this deal. The wood is poorly cut so the pieces are not flush against each other, and the holes were drilled terribly inaccurate.
When the board was finally constructed, the clapper refused to go into the slot it's supposed to fit in. I checked to make sure it was properly put together, and indeed it was; once again the inaccurate cut of the wood made it a chore to pull and put away the clapper.

Upside down view

The clapper itself seems of very little use-- it does not have enough weight to serve properly as a clapper; it seems only good for maybe two layers of light to medium weight fabrics... a total bummer...

It's supposed to glide in and out of the board, with only magnets to hold the two together while not in use; but the pieces are so wedged I don't even bother to "conserve" space, as it says it would do if put together.

The good thing about the board is that it does do the job it's supposed to; the edges will all find a use eventually, so at least this wasn't a total lemon of a purchase.

My eldest brother has kindly offered to make me a custom tailor's board and clapper with point press-- I'm eagerly looking forward to having truly functioning and sentimental pieces!

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: My Not-Quite-Really-A-Doppelganger-- With A Little Extra

Just minutes before getting touched up

Meet Frankie. My almost-but-not-quite doppelganer-- and I really only say that because I'm not made of pvc piping, paper and glue! Though she measures up pretty well-- only a centimeter or so off.

She costed me roughly $21.00 and three days to construct (not including the first initial waiting it took for her materials to be mailed to me)... three, because I didn't have the materials to make her stand up until today, which halted the process of completing her in other aspects not only just to add that finishing touch. So if I had to guess how long it would really take? Probably a teeny bit less than two days.

Well hell, I began using her after being freshly cut and dried off my body. Like I said in the previous post, paper tape holds its shape pretty well even without filling and such; it's essentially a lesser form of paper mache.

No stand, no filling, still utterly handy
One of the best things about making your own form is the laughs that come with asking your friend to help you with such an endeavor; doubly so when the aid of your significant other is needed to "grope" and "cup" the more intimate parts as they dry to keep their shape true to form.

Yarn is just for good measure.
Indeed, good memories were made as well as lessons well heeded: wear the tightest fighting articles of clothing you can that you don't mind getting cut up. I found a pink shirt at the thrift store that none too flattering exposed my "rolls" if you may; the tights/leggings were bought at the dollar store. Nothing was missed.

Another good bit of advice, courtesy of Lulushion? Don't cut any handmade form from the center back, cut it instead from the side. It is considerably more tricky (and requires a lot of trust, especially around the neck area), but it helps to lessen the inaccuracies. Imagine if someone were to cut your spine in half, why you'd buckle and deform, too!

Reinforced side seam

For the stand, I simply used a variation of Lulushion's tutorial on making one with PVC pipe; only mine is not adjustable at all, since I don't think I'll ever grow much even with heels... compensation for a slight height change is easily done, I feel. I also used a hanger and some tape for the upper inner portion.
She was then filled with shredded paper, not scrunched; it fills it up a lot better and gives it a decent weight so she won't blow away with a gentle gust of wind.

Ok, so onto the extra! I have yet another easy and great tutorial-- a supplement to making a paper-tape dress form (or duct tape).

An Integrated Pincushion

Since I have no desire for making her a pinnable cover (because I rarely, if ever, pin to the actual form), I decided the next best thing is a neck hole pincushion.

  • Left over cardboard
  • Foam
  • Polyfill
  • Scrap fabric; size dependent on size of pincushion/neck hole
  • Hot glue gun
  • Uncovered neck hole from your newly made form
  1. The final step to assembling your dressform requires that you measure out a piece of cardboard and top the hole with it before taping over it to seal. Before you get to that step first cut out a hole within that piece of cardboard.

  2. Then clearly have one mark on both pieces, so you can align them together with no gaps.

  3. Next grab a piece of foam (sorry no photo of this step) and hot glue it to the inner piece of cardboard you cut-- trim upwards so that no foam is sticking off to the side.
  4. Plop a piece of polyfill on the top of the foam, and then proceed to place the fabric over it all.

  5. Glue it on pulling tight as you go; begin by gluing the opposite ends to achieve the best tension (again, no photo of this step--sorry!).
  6. Once finished, begin to push the pincushion through the ring, aligning the marks. Don't push it all the way through, there should be a bit left behind, like shown.

  7. Use your hot glue gun to apply glue along that inner edge to seal the two pieces together.

  8. Then it is a simple matter of applying your "pincushion" to your form as usual.

And you're done! Pretty simple and clean looking (exactly like a mason jar lid pincushion); it also adds a dash of personality to your new form.

Happy Crafting!


Frankie has been getting some work done on her figure.
I drew as much as I could conjure in such a short burst, but now I've run out of steam; she'll have to wait till I feel like doodling again. For now, I give you Miss Frankie Stein anew.

I am debating whether she needs a skeletal spine on her back...
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