Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Leveling Up Home

So, one of the problems I discussed with my husband is that, although we are obviously together, the house doesn't quite reflect that...

I mean that it's entirely decorated with his possessions and the only place which is solely decorated with my things is my craft room.
It seems like such an insignificant thing to be unhappy about, but you'd be surprised how much one could take it for granted. A house needs to feel like home, afterall.
It took me so long to finally pinpoint it, largely because my husband and I share many decorative tastes in common, but the difference between the two was just enough that it started wearing away at something in me.
Constantly looking at things I couldn't even tell someone where it was purchased...

It's an easy enough fix, but it would cost a lot of money overall. So we're taking little bites here and there in the way of projects-- work our way to the big stuff.

The first step was getting rid of, or masking some of the hand me downs that are perpetuating the horrid beige and brown in our home.

The couch and its cushions.

This is actually a panorama of the room after some huge reorganizing we did last week. It was a ton of work, and it doesn't quite show, but the point of it was to make room for some of my paintings and posters awaiting postage down.

There isn't much we can do about the recliner couch that is wildly uncomfortable to horizontally lay on (it was given to us), so I just put a spider web lace tablecloth on it and it doesn't seem to shift much even when the recliner is set out.

I already knew I wanted to get rid of the cushions, but because they were yet another hand me down... we put off replacing them because we couldn't justify to ourselves that money should be spent on replacing them.

Then, I went to my husband a couple weeks ago with the strong intent to burn the savagely rough cushions, and we compromised by gutting them and making new comfortable cushions out of the entrails.

And so, that is when I, Madame Mortem with husband on board, justified buying fabric for new cushions.
I further enticed him by promising they'll actually reflect our gaming and movie/show tastes.
So we get not two, but 4 new cushions in total.

I came up with 2 large, and 2 medium: the large will be featuring Star Trek fabric for me, and Star Wars for him-- he's actually a Tolkienite, but we have so much LOTR weaponry, shields and maps about it, that I figured it would be nice to integrate our (by ours I mean mine) immense love of sci-fi in the mix, too (more compromise! Otherwise it would've just been something with Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov or Douglas Adams to accompany Mr. Roddenberry's universe). The medium ones will feature the emblem of his favorite game the Witcher, and mine would be the Legend of Zelda.

Silver for him, gold for her... should've been the other way round, but gamers choice, right.

I started with the smaller ones, and chose to use batik quarters.
I printed vectors of the two and began the tedious task of tracing them onto freezer paper, cutting it out very carefully with an exacto knife, and arranging the pieces neatly onto the fabric for pressing and painting...

Definitely not for those with little patience and an unsteady hand...
My eyes ached so much after this; it didn't help I was already pretty tired.
Painting proceeded as carefully because the freezer paper kept threatening to come up with this particular design. At least my Hylian crest was easy as pie...

I was actually debating making the dark Link Hylian crest; silver, because I think it's awesome and I'm not really a gold person. But I must stay true... so.

Last minute, I decided I better use the premade piping I had stashed for so long, but little did I regard that it would not be enough for the two cushions, so I had to make the tough decision of completing just one.
And it ended up being the one I worked hardest on... the Witcher.

I scoured the house for twine big enough to match this one, but alas there wasn't any to be found... and so, until I either buy more premade pipping or buy matching twine to make my own, my cushion will go unfinished...

Sad face!
I couldn't find the right Star Trek and Star Wars fabric at Joann's so I ordered it online... I'm still awaiting their arrival to begin the gutting of the old large cushions.

Edit to add:

I finished my version of our cushions!

Stay tuned, creepy crafters!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Sleepless In Calgary.

January has been a month of getting down to the roots of complacency and tearing them out.
My husband and I sat down an hour each day and talked about all the things that made us unhappy, and planned how we could attempt to eradicate and mend through small and big gestures.

This life overhaul has left me with all the motivation to sew, craft and ultimately write about it... but I haven't had a chance to do any of it (for myself, that is). I find myself overwhelmed because I have so much to write about, and no idea where to really start... might explain the lack-luster of the previous posts.

I guess one the biggest updates yet to be written about was first mentioned on the post made during the week I arrived back home.
I mentioned very briefly that I met with lady Insomniac from Insomniac's Attic.

Let me start of by saying that I am thrilled for chance at having met a fellow blogger. Like so many of my internet interactions, one only hopes to meet the many individuals someday, but it rarely ever happens.

Luckily, lady Insomniac lived in my hometown of Calgary.
I still wonder what are the chances of that...

I visited her twice with my youngest brother, once to see the progress of her wonderful Gothic Cottage in the spooky woods, and forgetting to take my camera....
And the second time (with camera!) she drove us about to see some of her favorite places.

Sadly, lady Insomniac is the camera shy type, and I was unable to convince her to take a photo with me for my blog. Nevertheless, I am able to show you the type of places she likes to visit once in a while, heh; this was the Chateau Country Lace.

It would be a while till I will be able to afford the items in this shop for my own home, but it was very nice taking in all inspiration, as lady Insomniac tends to do as well!

One of the places she took us to, my mother was tell me she once visited when she first settled into Calgary-- I guess it's been around for a while, but I never seemed to notice it; it was lavish, beautiful and once again far more than this humble person could afford... and yet, that didn't stop me from falling head over heels for the top floor of Chintz & Company...

I was too gobsmacked by the myriad of luxurious items to bust out my camera; I had always wondered what kind of place sold the unique items those better off could attain, and it was everything I imagined it to be.

The top floor had several rows of the most luxurious fabrics I had ever been privileged to see or touch.

I was on cloud 9.

Then, lady Insomniac showed me just how far my head could obsess over mere fabric and showed me this...

Chenille Damask in a dusty purple
To this day, I cannot stop dreaming of this fabric (the website has better shots of this fabric: here).
It haunts me; I've never been so consumed with desire for a material object... I must save for it. It will be mine one day. At $30.00 a meter, I'm not sure when... but it will be.

Lady Insomniac also took us to several thrift stores, where I managed to buy myself an entirely new wardrobe of clothing; we seemed to hit every sale these stores had. I was wondering if perhaps I should've puchased the meters I wanted (4) in lieu of the clothing purchases... though I would've spent more on the fabric, then the entire total of what we spent on the clothing, shoes and accessories.
I was more than a little torn.

Unfortunately, I had underestimated how much room I have back home; the mountains I had created with my new purchases was one of the catalysts to the "life overhaul"... who'da thunk it.

I was blessed by lady Insomniac's generosity when she first offered a buckle/clasp to a jacket I wanted to revamp some time ago. This time, she gave me a petticoat!

I feel like a glamorous gypsy as I twirl and twirl in it. Because of my "height deficiency", it doesn't quite fit the way it probably should, but I am appreciating what it does to my full length gypsy skirts, heh... so I don't know, should I shorten it? Or keep it full length? Decisions, decisions....

I made myself a promise that I must somehow return all the gestures of kindness which have been shown to me. I've never been good at guessing what someone may like, even in the slightest; I hate to admit it, but it literally has to be spelled out to me, hehe.

Is gift giving hard or easy for you? 
Share your tips and tricks!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: The Cute Edition-- My Other Side Mrs. Hyde

Or would it be my Jekyl side?

In any case, there is one side of my personality that often makes people scratch their head, because it is so unlike everything else to my personality that sometimes it's as though I live two separate lives... I've often wondered if perhaps I should've went with a different pseudonym, something along the lines of "Professor Jecky & Mrs. Hydie". But anyway.

I love Japanese kawaii. 

I blind side so many people with this confession.
Sometimes the two personalities get along and you can see it coming through on some projects. Most times, it's just so different that it appears so uncharacteristic and confusing; it is difficult creating an identity when you love opposing trends.

For some time now, my mp3 player has gone untouched by any of my two tastes; it remained as it was-- boring and plain. I figured the best place to start, was the part where most people first notice you're even listening to music... my headphones!
Since I frequent Pinterest almost daily, finding ideas to personalize my listening gear wasn't all that difficult; plus I already had an idea of what I wanted to do.

I discovered the DIY project of wrapped headphones (not the only video/tutorial to teach you how to do it-- it is trending afterall) --with the bonus of being tangle-free. If one knows how to make friendship bracelets, then one knew how to wrap up headphones; not a bad way to kill some time and feel productive.

Well, they were finished fairly quickly and they look really nice... but, maybe if I had only used variegated floss, as I've seen with others, it wouldn't feel so incomplete still... but what's done is done, and now I was faced with the nagging feeling like there needed to be something added.

One day, on ebay (uh oh), I came across these...

Bought from Bestdealinthebox @ebay
And I thought, 'how perfect and cute!'
I could buy the headphones and use variegated yarn on them instead!

But alas, when I got them they weren't better or even equal quality than my sony buds, and to top it all off, they were too big for my itty bitty ears. Let's be honest, though-- what was I really expecting for just $2.00?

Knowing that, the next step didn't really fill me with any trepidation as it would if any of the two pair of buds were pricey.

I suppose you know where I'm going with this now, eh?
I figured, since the solid purple wrap was already done, why not doctor the bears onto the old headphones...
This leaves the potential for many other little bud decorations, such as fancy buttons; since they tend to be shank buttons, you could always cut the shank off with flush cutter pliers.

Super Glue: when you're in a pinch!
I am sufficiently pleased with my headphones now

When I finally trade in my buds for over the ear headphones, then perhaps I'll finally get to use variegated floss.

Next step is to create a new strap and maybe a case...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spooky Basket: One Person's Junk...

Besides spending time with my clan, one of my favorite things about visiting my hometown is the sheer amount of seamstress-y treasures one can find in some of the thrift stores.
It usually isn't a bountiful catch, as far as sewing related goodies goes... but this time was different.
This time I hit the mother load, and I'm oh so excited to show it off. Of course, I would be remiss if didn't include the explanation of their uses, for those that wonder why and how...

So lets get on with it, shall we? I bought the two bundle of goodies from my favorite thrift store, as I never fail to find something I absolutely treasure; like vintage and new sewing books!

The Singer Skirt Marker

As you might've guessed from the name, this tall drink of water is used to mark hems around pants or skirts precisely, when no one is around to lend you a hand or when simply grabbing a regular ruler and marking out is just not enough to even out an uneven hemline. The ones made today are made of plastic and very often break after enough use. The vintage ones (70's and down), however, had a heavy metal base and a wooden yard/meter stick with a powder puffer attached to it... they are still going strong, and are far more coveted than the "updates". As such, on ebay/etsy they average about $15.00 to $30.00, depending on how complete they are-- powder puffer and box is what is usually missing.
I found mine complete for $1.00!

The Sleeve Board

Once again, an obvious one as I'm sure many momma's had it in the laundry room. Identical use to the seam sausage (or seam roll as it is commonly known), this tool is used to iron or press tricky long things like sleeves and pant legs. Wooden or professional sleeve boards are used with both sides; one side is smaller than the other; the wider side for pants, the narrow for sleeves. Unlike the seam sausage, however, it creates a flat press or ironed crease (like the ones in the front part of dress pants), so it's not quite as handy to press the cuff of puff sleeves for example. The regular house hold ones are made of metal and fold up, so they don't have the two varying sides to them.
Mine was purchased incomplete and a little on the dirty side; it doesn't have the thermal covering pads they usually come with, but I can sew those easily. I paid just $1.00, when they average about the same as the skirt marker on ebay and etsy.

The Clapper

This device comes in two kinds, one with a point press (as you can see by my old one), and the one shown above. The one and only purpose it serves is to reduce bulk in seams, such as in the sewing of coats and jackets. The seam is steamed, and then this is quickly applied on top of the seam with a bit of pressure-- in light to medium fabrics, it helps to make the piece as flat as a piece of paper. The points on the ones with a point press are used to press out tricky pointy corners, such as those found in collars. Averaging price is once again as the items above, I purchased mine for merely 50 cents; it was a little damaged, which my dearest younger brother sanded away for me. Now it's good as new!

Tailor's board

The gem of my haul-- this is a tailor's board. Before this, I owned the so-called "new and improved" Dritz tailor board, which receives a thumbs down from me (review here). A tailor's board is used to press awkward seams-- like it says, simply fit the seam to any of its various points and curves. I primarily use a tailor's board to press princess seams, as the top curve has just the right amount of bowing for the purpose.
This also has a point, just like a point press clapper-- so it's redundant to own both for that sole use, but you'd never just buy a tailor's board for a singular and specific purpose as that. They're terribly pricey, retailing about $50 and averaging $20 to $60 on etsy and ebay... it's not easy to get your hands on one that is cheaper, so when I saw this selling for 50 cents... I almost puked rainbows of happiness.

Vintage Pincushion

This one need no explanation, as it's the proverbial symbol that equates to sewing, but the sheer uniqueness of it warrants a singular mention; the pincushion. But this ain't no regular pincushion...
Because of the antique nature of this item, it's hard to find even an average of how much it would actually sell for. Anything similar ranges from $30 to as much as $100... but I didn't even pay $10, nope. I paid 75 cents-- and it even has the thread conditioner wax still intact! It was missing a couple pegs, which I and my youngest brother fixed and replaced... can you tell which ones? Heh.

Styling Curve (Vary form)

This handy ruler is especially useful for the drafting process, such as creating even curves on special long seams, such as those in the bodices of dresses from armhole to hip.
I purchased a large one during my early Christmas binge during black Friday. But this one is longer, and was a lot cheaper too; 75 cents as opposed to whatever discounted price I got the other one for (I think $7... I can't recall).

Loop Turner & Wrist Pincushion

The wrist pincushion is once again one of those self explanatory things, but the loop turner sometimes confuses beginners. The slender shape is used to feed through strips of sewn fabric, and the hook at the end latches onto the other side. You then pull the loop at the one end to turn the strip right side out-- very handy with strips that are too small to flip on your own, such as the creation of spaghetti straps. These are cheap to purchase new, but still not as cheap as 50 and 25 cents.

Well, that concludes any necessary explanations; the rest of the goodies speak for themselves

One of three sewing books I purchased for a measly $1.00 a piece (other two are still on their way in packages I mailed to myself), I think this was the rarest of the 3. Though not that rare, it's still hard to find for less than $30.00. Definitely not one for beginners, despite what the title may entail.
It is a wealth of information for such a thin book-- it's certainly a good start when you're endeavoring into flat pattern drafting for the first time (I would say an intermediate to advanced sewist will understand how to use this book). Mine even came with the original ruler, which isn't easy at all to obtain.

Another few items I relished in digging through was the myriad of patterns they had for 25 cents a pop. I found the sewing room accessory one I've been coveting; it isn't vintage, but is out of print. I also found an actual vintage one; I got it because it just oozed vintage charm. Best of all, they're all complete, albeit in a little rough condition.

I don't think the people pricing these items knew what they were selling, or I think they might've charged more... I guess that is what makes it my favorite thrift store! Heheh-- I never leave empty handed, or in the least bit broke.


It came along with my bundle of goods sent to me from back home, and it includes another of the three books I found at the thrift store that is a for real gem for the beginner pattern drafter. This one is the real deal, here. This one is my favorite of all time

Crazy that my copy once again came fully complete. It has instructions for many basic patterns offered in a way that is easy to follow and produces a fine sloper.

What was the greatest treasure you've bought or found?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Fashionably Late To The Party-- Part 1

So the new year is underway, and many of us have been taking advantage of the second wind a fresh new year instills in most folks.

I realize my "new year"s post is a touch late, but I was enjoying the past month with my family in Canada and have arrived back to AZ only a couple days ago.
There is only one computer at my mother's house, so my online time was almost non existent; it was just as well, I would've cut it down anyway to enjoy the time I had with my family. Since I've decided to yet again jump onto the Batfit program that kicked off at the beginning of the year, I've decided to break up these new year posts and intentions, so no one post will be too long to comfortably read.

I look back at the past year with a bittersweet nostalgia-- a lot of good came from the past year, but it also brought a few disappointments and heartaches. It was a good a balance of both as one could hope for any given year.

I haven't forgotten about my efforts (post: memory keeper jar) to keep positive thoughts at the foreground of my mind; though at times it felt like an impossible tug of war. And so, today I dug in to see what I felt was important enough to pop into the bucket.
It's worth baring in mind that there was an incident when the cats got into my memory bucket, and likely ate a few of the "memories"... I specifically remember a couple that aren't there, so my suspicions of their consumption seem correct. The white ones represent nice little memories, and the colored ones represent the pivotal moments.

Here's the result of those efforts (some of them were posted about here-- follow links):


Ones that are missing:

I hope everyone's new year started off on a positive note, 
and that you're on your way to a balanced year!

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