Friday, September 26, 2014

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Seasonal Winds... and Blankets.

Last week we've endured quite the rainfall.
It rained for days straight, sometimes light but mostly just heavy, and as much as I enjoy a nice rainy day, a storm that lasted this long is not a welcome occurrence... I tend to start feeling the gloom of a rain that lasts for days.

Thankfully during the past couple days or so, the sky cleared up and today revealed itself to be one of those days so gorgeous that not even the rudest person could bring me down from the overwhelming tranquility.

Though the sun is still shining, the days are noticeably shorter and cooler-- because of this, my crafty thoughts have turned to my knitting, and well... sewing blankets.

I figured I might as well show my quilt top, as I don't think I'll be getting it quilted any time soon, since I'm not willing to settle for anything less than spiderwebs and bats.

I spy a little curious shadow...

For the briefest moment, I was able to lay this completely flat on the floor and take a decent shot of it, because usually it's like moths to the flame...

Lay anything large enough on the floor, and this happens like clockwork.
Each one completing a ritual of stretching before inevitably settling down to block your view. You can set your watch to this.

I admit, I am a little anxious that I can't quilt this right away, but I am loyal to my work and the people there so going to someone else (unless it's another friend) is out of the question.

Omitted myself from fussy cutting the orange blocks on purpose.

So, since I am sans a quilted blanket, I went ahead and bought some new minky we just got in and I've been dying for a reason to buy. With a quick snip and a stitch, I whipped up a brand new ultra snuggly blanket for the coming cold winter days.

Of course I laid it on the floor and waited for one of my favorite models to make it look much better...

If the fabric doesn't make you want it enough, then surely Khan can persuade anyone with his dashing suave.
It's so soft, so soft in fact I literally fell asleep while fawning over it today and almost missed work! I'm sure I looked attractive with bed head at work *cough*.

That's not the last blanket... I also have another one that's been in the making since last year, but could not decide what I wanted to accentuate it with. It's a Halloween printed fleece; jack 'o lanterns and candy corn on a black background. The way they look reminds me of vintage Halloween-esque... so it couldn't go with just anything.
At work we got a series of Halloween cottons called Jeepers Creepers that has exactly what I've been looking for, for this blanket.

It feels right. The fleece is starting to look a little dingy because regardless of being unfinished for so long, I still used it as a blanket for when I''m lounging on the couch.

I'm going to bind the entire blanket in the polka dot and create a border for the center panel in the pumpkins... all to hide edges.

I really love vintage Halloween memorabilia. It's the best thing since chocolate and candy corn martinis (thanks to Franny!).

As for my knitting... I've been doing it when I don't feel like sewing or gaming. I've made a trade with one good friend that I am really excited about. She is going to crochet me a death star pillow for my hubs, and in return I shall knit her a 13ft Dr. Who scarf.
If you were to ask me which Doctor's scarf it is, I'd simply shrug at you... I don't know anything about the lore, just that it exists and requires these colors, ahaha!

Who's the Who down in Whoville?
And once again, this isn't the only project I have been up to, but I can't divulge the slightest clues since they're gifts for the family (who read my blog likely to try and nab hints at what I am making them... =P).

I feel like a craftosaurus these days...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Spooky Basket: Meander.

It's 12am, and my brain is further from the thought of sleep than I care to indulge, especially on the dawn of a full days work--meaning early start.

I already popped my melatonin and await sleepy bliss.. but until then, I am positively swimming with passing thoughts, aggressive ideas and excitable anticipation. Not one correlating to the other, mind you.

Yeah, it's one of those nights.

Any other time, I oblige my sleeplessness because it's usually the only time when I can really push out my crafty delights before I inevitably crash.

Ok, I lied, maybe two of the above deal with each other...

On a lark over the weekend I decided I would start a quilt.
On Monday, I finished the quilt top.

A sneak peek from the weekend
This is my first time ever making a quilt, and I gotta say... it's definitely not as difficult as I've been led to think. I guess I could see how elitism could sprout from this sort of craft, and why there are entire shops and shows dedicated to quilting goods and materials.

I bought the book First Time Quiltmaking and I was able to dish out their most complicated pattern (granted, this is at a beginner's level) in roughly 24hrs-- give or take due to the breaks I took to work on other things.

I could've easily just have asked my boss to give me some pointers to begin my quilting endeavors, but you know me... I gotta learn "the hard way".
My justification? I can tell my friends and readers whether it's a good book to learn from, and it is.

If someone like me, who is terrible with math (even though I strive with all my heart) and pinpoint accuracy that leaves a lot to be desired, can learn to craft a decent quilt from reading just one fairly short book on the subject? Then surely anyone can. It's the cost of quilting that should be the bother... rulers, rotary blades, and cutting mats aren't exactly cheap. Then you have to decide whether quilting and binding it yourself is worth your time.
Binding is a four letter word; it's probably the most tedious thing about quilting and, for me, detracts from the pleasure of quilting-- I'm not alone either or there would not be such a demand for it in the shop.
Doing anything other than a meander on your own machine might result in tears of frustration. If you go to a professional long arm quilter you can have large silhouettes in complete themes!... Like I am hoping for mine (bats, spiderwebs and filigree). But then there's the cost of quilting it professionally... though, it's kinda worth it, and I'm not just saying that because I work at a fabric/quilt shop-- I am saying it because it adds such an awesome final touch to a quilt.

I'm not certain when I'll get mine quilted, as I am waiting for a window to open up at work since we're incredibly backed up by quilts that need that kind of treatment.

As for the book. It is great, but it is also very short. To judge the price of the book for the amount of content, I would say it's probably best to buy it used because you're not going to get a lot of mileage from this book before you're ready to advance-- and let's face it, leave it on your shelf to collect dust.
Now, if the intent is to make the reader lust for more quilting conquests in such a short and sweet way, then I'd say they succeeded because I am thirsty for more...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Copy Bat Strikes Once More.

'Tis our season, my pretties! There is no inspiration quite like the first glimpse of a jack o' lantern smiling back at you when you enter any shop, or the whiff of piles and piles of candy and pumpkin pie pervading the grocers; the harbingers of joy to many creepily inclined souls.

Nothing gets me in the mood to craft faster than the slew of delightful materials available to me during this time. I could spend a couple million in a day, no doubt, during this joyous time of year.

Regular function

This year has inspired me to finally test out the embroidery function of my beloved Brother SE400. I already knew I loved my machine, but after the past couple days did I realize I am completely and irrevocably smitten over my machine. It's true, it may not be built to last like its much older relatives that are still sought after today, and it may need more babying too... but let not its modernesque detract you from its capabilities. It just may surprise you.

Embroidery machine formed up and ready to stitch out!

After drooling for what feels like the thousandth time over the embroidery designs at Urban Threads, wondering if my machine was even capable of quality stitched embroidery designs, I finally had enough and just took the plunge.

I purchased their Gothic Lace Bat design. $3.00 seemed a lot to spend on something I wasn't even fully confident would work, and it's not like it's tangible data... if it didn't work out, it would just be a folder stored forever in my external hard drive. $3.00 could buy me a cone of much needed black thread!

It's funny, but what spurred my plunge is yet another moment of longing, but waiting for the right moment to buy.
I love those gothic rockabilly cardigans with the embroidered shoulders, you know the ones; you've probably seen a few of your favorite bloggers sport them with pride.

Source: Sourpuss, currently unavailable

The problem with waiting is that when that "right time", that moment when you've finally convinced yourself that it is worth it to you to spend the money (even though it would blow your entire crafting budget out of the month), when it all finally comes to a head... suddenly it's gone, and ebay might be your only way to obtain it from a seller you've never bought from before, thus perpetuating the cycle.

I was fully intending on buying this cardigan... but now that it's gone from my clutches, its released my inner copy bat from the deepest depths of my being; the closet wants, what the closet needs.
So I must make do with my ingenuity.

I shopped around my closet for things I haven't worn in a few years, and dug up a tired looking cardigan that is 8 years old for myself, but likely older since it was thrifted those many years ago.

The subject
Pretty basic, but fit the bill for my needs! So, I had the design, and the foundation cardigan... next was to shop around work for what I needed.

Stabalizer, machine embroidery thread, buttons, hoop, and scissors.
The markings of a great time.
Since the shoulder area is too narrow to hoop, it was in the best interest of my project to make little lace appliques. Because this is lace, I couldn't just use any type of stabilizer, or I would risk having too many white flecks within the scrollwork of the lace when trying to remove regular stabilizer. So I bought a roll of water soluble stabilizer by Sulky.

The most essential tool in machine lace making. It really does dissolve in water, and it only takes a minute or two to completely dissolve away.

Something that always makes me nervous when it comes to machine embroidery is the thread. Most people who sew know the tyranny embroidery thread holds onto our sanity. It's so pretty to look at, but an utter pain in the ass. It wiggles and squirms the opposite way you're trying to direct it, it doesn't like being handled roughly in the slightest, in fact it hates any type of needle but top stitch and embroidery, and to add to all that, it's the most expensive kind of thread there is because it's normally made from silk in the finest weight.

I wasn't ready to waste my purple thread on something untested... so I used some off white spool I had purchased a few years back with the machine (because I thought I would use this function soon than later).

I had my stabilizer hooped, and my machine prepped (after reading the manual over at least 3 times).
It was the moment of truth.

When I selected the design, what looked like a Rorschach blot vaguely resembling a bat appeared on the screen of my machine... not the best sign, to say the least.

*Whirr* went the machine.
After I engaged the machine, it began doing its thing... which also started to resemble the Rorschach blot in the beginning...
When the machine finally beeped finished (20 mins later), to my shock and thrill...

It actually looked exactly like what I wanted. Not a single stitch out of place.
The pride I felt was nothing short of high.

Naturally, I had this seething desire to embroider this bat onto anything plain and a little uninspiring... but that seems a little excessive. It wasn't easy sticking to the original plan, but I managed it

It's amazing what a few pieces of applique and a change of buttons will do to an otherwise plain and boring article of clothes. This is precisely why I never throw or donate any of my clothing, because somewhere in time I will find a way to breathe new life into... but it also doesn't help my closet space problems, just adds to it...

I do intend on modeling this, but I would like to complete the dress that I feel would go so well with it first!

Time to buy more embroidery designs!
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