Monday, December 21, 2015

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Meanderings and Goals.

The wheels of time doth turn and churn, and like always I've been blind to its unrelenting passing.
Like Frankenstein to his monster, I tend to my creations to the detriment of everything and everyone around me-- I barely notice how many days go by before the next post. Typically by that time, days sometimes weeks have gone by.

November was pleasantly productive, I finally and once and for all finished that Whovian scarf that had so long haunted my WIP pile since its conceptualization that fateful day. I finished the bat peplum blouse, another notch on a trend I've been effectively obsessing about since 2013! I still haven't had enough, there is more yet to come.

I overhauled my entire fabric stash and came to the startling conclusion that I actually don't have a baby stash-- it's actually a huge stash that comfortably sits around very high triple digit yards on a given estimate. Scary-- so I took away all the excess that I could comfortably rid myself of... granted, it might not have seemed like much, but I have never fought so hard against my fabricaholic tendencies.

Carnage during the "great purge".
I went through my 200+ sewing patterns and retired many I'll never sew, and a few I can part with altogether. This has made sewing them all in my youth a feasible goal. I cleaned every nook and cranny, and redecorated the entirety of my sewing room; by god did it feel great!

Oh but how time has had it in for me this December.
Things have gotten slow once December arrived on the calendar. I mean real slow. So slow, my body aches with atrophy.
Ok, so I'm being dramatic... I've not felt this listless since I lived in Holbrook, AZ.

Some of you may remember how I combated this feeling; I used to make lists to keep me focused and busy. I decided to go back to doing that-- it helped a lot.

Since I really want to work through the remaining patterns and use (instead of hoard) my fabric stash, I thought it might be nice to target those especially with Roses and Vellum hosting a wardrobe sew-along. What better time to making it all happen-- as opposed to the smorgasbord of crafts that was once how the lists were.

So with my goals and intentions set, it's time to make it sew!

Sew long, and prosper.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Spooky Basket: Something Pretty For When All Else Fails.

I had trouble deciding whether I wanted to post about my kind of gloomy non existent plans in an attempt to join Professor Z in her Gothidays blog event, or curate a Freakshow Films post around one of my favorite filmmakers Jan Švankmajer who I've been seeing quite a lot of recently, or write about how I think Christine McConnell is a much better pinup role model than Dita Von Teese is... lol.

Well... I could't decide.
So naturally, I've turned to my sewing room which has recently welcomed some new members-- all consequences of the act of the "treat yo self" movement... *shiftyeyes*

In October, Tula Pink announced her new hardware line of rainbow steel awesomeness that included 8" shears, a surgical steel seam ripper, and some tweezer snips. I preordered them, of course.

I ordered my set from The Crafty Cora on Etsy. I had trouble locating a shop that would answer my pleas, and this shop was quick to communicate and happy to take orders. They came to me in mid November, just as the doctor ordered, heh!

The tools are far prettier than I could have expected! True to the nature of Tula Pink (one of my favorite fabric designers, weird I know), they're very bright and colorful-- they easily beat out my Gingher shears. To be honest, I am not sure why I ordered the ripper and the snips too... I don't like either method of snipping or ripping lol. I'm just as bad a gadget-aholic as I am sew-aholic. 

I did worry about one thing when it came to the shears since there was no real description of the blade; luckily my worries dissipated when I slid my finger across the blades... 
If there's one feature that annoys me, it's micro serration. I don't know why they add this to so many sewing scissors-- it's the worst idea, in my opinion. Once they go dull (and they do, despite the claims of otherwise) you can't take micro-serrated scissors to get resharpened without completely ruining them. You can tell if you have micro serration just by looking at the blade-- it would appear as a tiny pinking pattern. Likewise, you can feel it-- a blade that isn't serrated will feel smooth and kinda dangerous to slide your finger across.

Shortly after, Black Friday sales were kicking in online and I saw two deals I couldn't pass up; I was in the neighborhood for a new iron, even though there isn't anything mechanically really wrong with my Rowenta. It doesn't sputter, and I kept up the maintenance well-- it's just that, even at its highest temp it wasn't hot enough and didn't steam enough for my liking anymore.

Entrer le Oliso TG1100.

I used one of these in the quilt shop I worked at back in New Mexico, so I knew it packed a punch in the heat and steam department. It's a little weird that it doesn't need to be propped up like any other iron, you keep it on its plate and it jumps up with little legs on its own. Cute, and actually pretty intuitive if you think about it; like so many who sew, we've all been victim to the "hot plate graze" every now and then. It glides better than any iron I've ever owned, and best of all... it's purple!

That being said, I nabbed it for $100 flat (including shipping); it's a lot for an iron even on sale, and I don't think I would have spent it if I didn't know what I was going to expect from it. My second choice was the Smartfill by Maytag; I did a bit of research and this maytag is probably the best one if you find yourself on a limited budget but in need of a decent iron for your sewing-- current price on amazon being under $40!

Finally, along with the Oliso, I ordered myself...

A thread tower. Yup.

Probably the most gratuitous purchase of this post, it comes with 80 spools of all purpose Guterman sewing thread in a rainbow of colors (some of which I probably will never use lol), and can hold 3 of each color. It's on a lazy susan mechanism, and spins rather quietly and gracefully dons my Ray Bradbury inspired Halloween Tree. I guess since there's nothing else to say about the tower, I might as well tell you all my favorite brands of thread. They are as follows in order: Mettler Metrosene, Gutermann, and Maxi Lock.

So if you're thinking about splurging and spoiling the seamster in your life, any one of these might put a huge grin on their face-- and don't forget to stuff their stocking with good thread (not coats & clark), high quality sharps (John James needles are great quality), and perhaps some 45 mm rotary blades (make sure to ask the brand of their cutter so you can match the blade!). Trust me, they'll love it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Simplicity 1590

I am not a fan of winter. The sudden change wreaks havoc on my body, and around the time of my last post I've been laid out sick to my gills-- my body can't decide if it's allergies, a cold, or just overly socialized. Probably a combination of all.

There is so much to update since last I posted! A crazy whirlwind of tiny but significant events... for starters, I've gone back to making lists of the projects I want to complete by the end of the month-- they were such great successes while I was living as a hermit in Arizona, why should it not be so while I am a hermit here in Texas? Even as I was rhetorically begging for my life to end from the symptoms of whatever ails me, I managed to complete so many of the projects on my rather ambitious list in November. The first of which was: 

Simplicity 1590

It occured to me after the last bat dress that I was making too many dresses, and I do realize that makes me sound mad as one can't really have enough... but, and I know this may sound silly, but part of the reason I have been constructing all these commercial patterns is to facilitate the sewing bug, as it's not an easy one to dive into like other addictive hobbies, and if I knew what blogs were when I was starting off I'd probably read into people's experiences like I do today. Anyway, I greatly digress.

Notice anything new, maybe? hehe...

I have a few peplum top patterns that I had trouble deciding to craft because it was indeed a peplum and a top that I wanted, and then it occurred to me that this particular one is a goldmine of useful skill building. It encompasses many, if not all aspects, of intermediate sewing level methods: bust darts, front darts, back darts, tuxedo style collar, buttons... all of which need intermediate tools like a button gauge, tailor's board and a pressing ham, knowledge on what interfacing to use... the list goes on! I say again, it's a goldmine!

I definitely recommend this particular pattern if you're looking to build upon your skill set with these tools to improve the look of quality in your work, or even to refresh yourself in case its been a while. Plus, it's hella cute for anyone.

I chose view B which includes all of the above details, and for the fabric I chose a Chillingsworth blender by Andover Fabrics and a dancewear material for the collar. Two particularly difficult materials; Andover fabrics is notorious for either over starching their cottons or they create them with a heavier weave then I can observe... I prewashed this material twice and there still seems to be residual stiffness, which is apparent by the tenacity of the folds created with simply pressing center folds in. This would by why they tell people not to construct garments with quilting cotton... but you can't find these kind of awesome prints in fashion material, so it makes it hard to heed that warning. Anyway, the dancewear might've seemed like a bad idea for a collar no less, but after observing the construction of t-shirt quilts while working in a quilt shop, I was convinced a t-shirt backing interfacing would work.

It did. It completely removed the stretch of this ultra stretch dancewear, while still retaining some of the natural drape. See? Quilters and garment constructors can learn from each other!

The blouse comes together in a total of 3 AHS: Freakshow episodes-- not so long. I almost hit a brick wall in the exact place where there seems to be a consensus where it is badly written in the instructions. The attachment of the peplum; other than this part, it's all very intuitive. I had debated creating a video on just this section, as people seem to have trouble preventing a bubble where the tie and peplum seam meet. 

I think the problem might be that either people haven't made the initial reinforcement in the corners, or they clipped into that seam after the peplum has been jammed into and attached to that seam-- which it seems to suggest from what I can tell. During the mock up, I simply clipped first then attached the vertical seam and followed through into the front dart when I stitched it up-- and voila no bubble, no pucker. That might've made things worse since I am not the best at verbal (written) direction...

I was a little lazy when it came to the tie-- I chose not to create it out of either of my fabrics. Instead, I used a black cotton lace that I had received in a lot of vintage notions in an ebay auction; I purchased it primarily for a tailor's clapper since I had never seen a clapper alone for how little I paid for the entire lot! Quite a find.

Finally, I finished the hem using a narrow lace ribbon... another momentary lapse of will-- I just didn't feel like turning under the seam so to hide the overlocked stitches lol.

I am also letting Ophelia model it alone, since the state of my face and body has been in a constant state of redness, puffiness, oozing liquid, and exhaustion since the beginning of November, heh.

My final notes on the pattern other than what I mentioned, it turned out to be a touch tighter than anticipated-- doesn't seem to be much integrated ease... or maybe it's because I've just been horribly swollen and bloated, since it doesn't appear to be tight on Ophelia who has been my identical measurements before being this sick lol.

As a side note, if you're thinking of using this amount of specialty material, do bear in mind that it probably can't be tossed in with the regular wash without horrible consequences-- my blouse will have to be dry cleaned.

More updates as I get better! Spook ya later, ghouls!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: McCall's 6887

During this past week my husband was gone for yet another business trip. I spent the entire time at home; I stepped outside a total of two times; once to take out the trash and pick up mail at the beginning of the week, and again to do the same at the end of the week.

That may sound pitiful and unhealthy to some folk, but I really relish these moments; it's the times I'm in solitude that I am at my most productive.

With nothing to derail my creative drive such as a grumpy/hungry/"in the mood" husband (heh), I was able to focus completely on my own thoughts. Problem was, he's integral to the fabric decision making process, and without him I spent 2 days just attempting to choose fabric; I could be a poster child for indecision. So I enlisted the aid of friends online to help me with the job, and so the pattern that had been in my queue for a long time was finally underway.

McCall's 6887

I'd like to point out that, that friend is male and has no particular interest in sewing, halloween or dresses that I'm aware of, so the mere fact he was willing to help me with swatching this pattern was immeasurably appreciated, heh. He decided this glow in the dark bat fabric was best out of the choices I managed to bring to him.

The pattern is deceptive, at first glance the dresses looks basic, but the dresses have a design feature that won me over; they are partially backless. I chose view A and cut out a size 12, and made a slight design change.

One of the key complaints to this pattern's backless feature is that the placement of the button bar that goes across your back is awkward and has a tendency to show too much bra. With this in mind, I was able to plan my attack of this dress, but I wish my problems began and ended there...

When I finished my draft I began work on my mock up, but something funky was apparent when I tossed it up on Ophelia-- the straps for the sleeves had a little too much ease, so I took it apart and used my brand spankin' new seam allowance curves to redo them.

"What do you mean I'm not helping?! I'll cut you!"
The adjustments were perfect on the first try for the armholes and the button bar (having put a bra on Ophelia to determine where exactly one sits). I went on to assume that I was over the worst of the adjustments after just mocking up the bodice alone, and continued onto the final garment. That would be my first error, though I didn't realize it at the time what it entailed.

Nearing the final stages of the dress, the second mistake showed up; somewhere during the attachment of the lining and exterior skirt pieces to the dress, I had unwittingly sewn the back half of the lining wrong side inside-- meaning the sewn seams were exposed on the inside, which defeats the point of having a lining. I realized this only after having inserted the zipper. Being the finisher freak that I am, that meant I had to undo regular and overlocked seams to redo it all at that point.

Once corrected, I was having an unbelievably difficult time reinserting the zipper; it's like it decided it didn't want to be part of the garment anymore. It was a regular zipper, so after several attempts I decided to just insert an invisible one... that meant undoing the center back seam so that I could add it seamlessly...
Any other person probably would have just said F that noise, but my determination pushed me forward. After I had done with the unstitching and sewing of said zipper I believed I was done, what a fool I was...
When I put on the garment, it was at that point I realized I made the biggest mistake of all (that error #1). The bodice did indeed fit perfectly, but if I had not been so presumptuous and skipped ahead, I would have seen during the mock up stage that the skirt was a whole size too big! I checked my pattern draft to the original, and it appeared that during my sleep deprived stupor, I had copied a size 14 skirt instead of a 12-- I think this is what they meant when they warn people not to sew at night...
I could have just added pleats, but the sight of them was just not suitable to the design of the dress. I took a deep breath, and to my own surprise I did not rage and rampage. I grabbed my seam ripper and went to work... again.

After all that unstitching, my house looked like I had a fierce battle with some type of thread monster, and its blood, the thread cuttings, covered every inch of me and everything else. I'm still finding cuttings in my hair, but that ended the reign of the pattern mishaps... finally.

Now onto the design changes! The only design change I made was the addition of the collar. I found the front to be too boring and not fitting a dress of this kind. Initially, I drafted a peter pan collar and it quickly evolved into bat wings.

Drafting a peter pan collar is no big deal, but turning them into a bat wing required a little bit more thought. It was tricky drafting it so that it would so obviously look like bat wings while still allowing a 5/8th seam between points and curves-- all while attempting not to make it too small or too large.

The points were dulled during the process, but I believe I succeeded in doing exactly what I set out to do. I left a little gap in between the points because once again there was an initial plan; to put in a cute little skull button. Instead I ended up sewing a bow into place after deciding the button would be too much.

It was during this project that I decided to jump in an try my hand at fabric covered buttons for the first time. I don't know why I didn't try them before, especially since I love fabric covered buttons-- they're the bees knees. Since I don't have a fabric button press of my own (yet), I bought the insta-kits by dritz.

They actually worked pretty well, and resulted in some fine looking buttons to match the fabric of my dress! I mean, I can only assume that buttons made with a button press would look exponentially better, but being so... not bad at all, heh.

And that folks concludes this rather long post; if there's one thing I hope you take away from my experience with this dress is that you do not ever skip any part of the prep -- it really is the difference of spending a few hours of prep and having a great garment, to days worth of mistakes or god forbid a crappy end product because you didn't see and address the problems. This proves that even us veterans can get complacent and make a plethora of mistakes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Scary Spooky Numbers.

I don't know how other sewists keep track of all the numbers we deal with, but I surely cannot. Even when they belong to me.
I can't ever seem to remember my own measurements, no matter how often I use them; numbers never had sticking power in my head, unlike interesting tidbits and catchy jingles...
It was with this in mind, and the fact I go through plenty of notepads losing the notes I make, I bopped around the internet in search of a good spooky template to use. In doing so I discovered a really cute blog that offered a printable template that exemplifies the awesomeness all over this blog; I speak of Tea and Craft. Her template is cute, really damn cute-- much like her!
However, as cute as the template was it didn't perfectly fit the need I was looking for; I needed it to be a little more basic and bold since my eyes play funky tricks with small text. So I took to the internet again, but not for another template. I wanted to build on her awesome idea and add more Halloween kitsch to it!

Click to be directed to google docs for printing
After visiting the Graphics Fairy, with nothing but Pixlr and Paint at my disposal...the result is a printable that has lines for all the basic measurements one has to remember for sewing patterns, and a little room for the real specific ones, just in case-- all large enough to hang and glance at quickly. With Tea and Crafts blessing, this template is available for you all to use at your leisure!
Go ahead, print and be merry knowing you won't have to remember all those bloody numbers!
Be very sure to visit and thank Tea and Crafts for inspiring us all.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mortem's Trick or Treats: What The Copy Bat Wants, The Copy Bat Gets.

Now I know I've been quiet, and that shouldn't shock anyone since I go long stretches without a peep... but I will agree it is rather strange for someone who is especially active around October. It is currently 6 days 18 hours and 43 minutes till the grand finale of the best month of the year. I have been scrambling to round off my Hallowe'en shopping, but a certain impulse put a kibosh to not only that... delayed the completion of a few projects.

Luckily I recovered from the delay in order to get one of my commissions done and...

New Look 6773. If it looks familiar, it's because it should... oh yes, the copy bat has struck again! This is my attempt to copy bat the purple batty dress from Sourpuss. The days of the original dress are numbered, every time it was washed it got a little more faded-- not to mention some of the seams have become undone on some places, and I always wash in delicate settings with cold water and woolite for blacks. The fading and fraying has gotten so bad that I have all together stopped washing it in the general wash, and have now added it to my pile of dry cleaning. It's so sad to see such a beautiful item just be an all round disappointment in quality.

Anyway, I vowed to copy bat the dress because I adore that dress. I am not going to buy another one, because the cons of doing so are just too great. It's so much money to gamble on a potentially bad product-- could have been mine was just some bad dud, but I don't want to risk another one. Not when I have the ability and know-how to make a similar one. So I did.

A couple or so Hallowe'ens ago a good friend had purchased me a couple yards of this wonderful spider web fabric. I see it every year now at Walmart-- seems like it's a popular one. I knew it was just the fabric for this copy bat dress I had in mind when I was organizing my stash for the move... but, it wasn't until I actually moved to San Antone that fate brought me together with this out of print pattern during a sale.

And it all came together just like that. Bodice view B and Skirt view K made an almost identical dress in style and cut!

So I began my work a week or so ago, when suddenly I sent all my machines in for work on the oddest lark I've ever felt.

There is sat for a few days, taunting me on my dressform-- laughing at me for my impulse. I couldn't even do any retail therapy because the cost of sending in my machines was a little too sudden and large of an expenditure. Although, my serger was aching for a new plug; the plastic around the socket was smashed during the move since the movers had packed it with my very heavy and very metal exterior singer machine. Lucky it didn't affect the electrical, it was just an annoyance because the plug wasn't as secure as I liked. It was really dumb, but I'm over it now.

About the only problem I encountered with the pattern itself was the left side back bodice piece alone was gaping under my arm in the most unusual way. I'm positive it was because the tension on my serger was a little too strong and it warped ever so slightly to create that gaping. I had to retinker with the settings on all my machines on their return naturally, which I thought I nailed by the time I put the final garment through. To fix the problem I reopened the seam and tucked the excess and hand stitched it back. Not the proper way, I'm sure, but it solved the issue and it appears flawless lol.

This dress is fully lined, and despite the tiny hiccup, it wasn't much of an issue. Though I truly do wonder if I should have lined it-- there is a reason I never line the dresses I make. It's bulky, and a pain with static. Hate that clingy feeling... it hasn't happened yet, but we'll see. I chose a lightweight cotton for the lining, none of that synthetic stuff notorious for static charge. I didn't see much of a choice for including the lining because the collar is attached to the edge of the dress... I guess I could have just drafted a facing like I do with everything else, but I suppose I felt I needed to change it up?(??)

Ah well, whatever the case, now I won't feel quite so bad when the bat dress and I part ways, because I know that I can always make the replacement, heh. I might just even make this in different Hallowe'en prints too! That might be really fun.
The rough cost break down of this dress was:

  • $4 per yard for spiderweb (x2), 
  • $2.00 per yard for lightweight cotton (x2)
  • $7 per yard for black twill (.25)
  • 12 inch zipper $4 (1)
  • Pattern (on sale) $1
Making the grand total: $18.75 and 5 hours total of labor (not including the long pauses between actual work). If I calculated in minimum wage for those hours (going to put it at $10 because that was what it was in New Mexico), it comes out to be a touch more than the one from Sourpuss but only for that reason alone; I only calculate wages if I was actually going to sell it, which I am not.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of "The Copy Bat"-- bringing you ways to make the things you want on (mostly) a dime.

P.S. the shoes I'm wearing are ones I modified once upon a time-- for a better look, and the story behind them, check out the old post!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: A Quiet Evening & A 3lbs Bag of Candy Corn.

Tis' a quiet and uneventful afternoon; I'm sitting and eating away at a 3lbs bag of Brach's candy corn, as I enjoy the tranquility.

Normally by this time, I'd be cursing the weather on the cooler side... thankfully, at least for a cold blooded one such as I think myself, the weather hasn't shut down my senses and threw me into hibernation mode. No, it's warm and still into the 90F (30C) here in the deeper end of Texas.
Call me crazy, but I still manage to not only knit but go so far as to wear a warm hat on my head while doing so... though in my defense, my husband does keep the house on the cool side.

I think I have officially completed my Halloween shopping... I was, like everyone else it would seem, just a tiny bit underwhelmed at this years choices. Halloween shopping seemed to wind down a lot earlier than I am used to-- I was left with the conclusion that Texan's (at least in my area of San Antone) do not really care too much about Halloween enough to let it have its month before all the Christmas takes over the main traffic displays. I wonder if it was any different in the other parts... it is an exceptionally big city after all. I bought many things after having gone all over our side of town-- and I mean it, every day it felt like I saw something online and then went to every shop near my vicinity in order to find it and buy it. It would have been nice having the option of simply purchasing them online, but in many cases it wasn't able to.

I bought many nice things despite encountering many bare and minuscule shelves... and perhaps some nice things for a potential giveaway.
Hmm, I've probably said too much...

A couple nights ago I was tagged by the marvelous Curious Professor Z and then again today by the delectable Mourning Glory Designs for a Halloween tag; how fun!
Let's get down to business:

1. Favorite Halloween song?
Hmm, well let's see-- Bobby Pickett's Monster Mash for a truly Halloween tune that gets me feeling very festive.
Confession #1: I have always wanted to break out dancing to Thriller, and have people join in on it donning their costumes...

2. Witch of Vampire
My younger self would have jumped in quickly with vampire-- I had such a thing for them, and was an avid reader of the Vampire Chronicles. Though, I'm going to go with both on this one-- I like witches a lot too now.
Confession #2: I gave serious thought to the consumption of blood during my vampire obsession, researching cultural practices in depth. It never happened other than a few well seasoned medium rare steaks, heh. These days, I don't care much for red meat anymore.

3. Favorite thing about Halloween
I suppose I like the feeling of general society also partaking in the enjoyment of spooky stuff. My husbands birthday is on the eve of Halloween, so we get to celebrate his existence then too.
Confession #3: I love every kitschy detail of Halloween, from cheap plastic fangs and fake blood to timeless decadent batty decor.

4. Halloween party or scary movie marathon?
Definitely scary movie marathon; I like people, but it's hard to stay around them. I have a threshold where I can comfortably hang out for a couple hours, but once it's up you can physically see me draining of energy despite my desire to stay.

5. Skeletons or Zombies?
Can I choose both? I like watching zombie movies, and decorating with skulls and skeletons...

6. Favorite Halloween candy?
Candy corn without a doubt, but I do also really love caramel apple pops. Rockets are good, too...
Confession #4: I hated/loved smarties double lollies. I loved licking them till my tongue was raw and almost bleeding. I hated them for the same reason.

7. Favorite Halloween movie?
Well, I don't think there's any movie that I save specifically to watch during Halloween, but if there were it'd probably be Hocus Pocus, Halloween Town '98, Under Wraps '97 and every classic universal studio monster movie. Also this, definitely this (go on, watch it-- it's the best ever!):

8. Favorite Halloween costume?
I saw this image of an artist's concept of a pyramid head from Silent hill gender swapped carrying a staff made from the church steeple rather than the giant sword, and I still think it's the best idea for a costume ever. One day I'll get around to crafting it... but I would want to give it my all, and to not have an event to wear that amount of work to has really kept me from committing to starting it.

9. Favorite Halloween store?
I liked Dollarama-- super cheap, cute and neat stuff most of the time. Don't have Dollarama's in the U.S. that I'm aware of, at least not in the states I've lived in. In New Mexico and Arizona it was Kmart as they had the cutest damn decorations and clothing; good quality and good price. Since there are no Kmarts in San Antone, it's now Joann's and Target. Nice stuff, but they border on the pricier side of indulgence.

10. Jack-o-lanterns, yes or no?
I think the answer is obvious, heheh... *glances over to background*.

11. Bats or Black Cats?
Bats and black cats invade every aspect of my life. I have a black cat named Khan (after the Star Trek super villain, but he is referred to as the Genghis from time to time), and I'm adorned by something batty 90% of the time, back in New Mexico I enjoyed watching the bats at night and frequented Bat Flight at Carlsbad Caverns.
Confession #5: I'm actually terrified of anything flying, so the bats that hung out at my house in New mexico would often scare the bajeebus out of me when returning home at night. They liked my front door for whatever reason, and I never had the foresight to leave the porch light to prevent them from hanging out there...

12. Is Halloween your favorite holiday?
That would be an unequivocal yes. I consider myself a Halloween Town denizen more than I consider myself a goth-- much more accurate description of my style and self.
Confession #6: I get a huge kick from scaring people, especially small children. I would be one of those annoying pranksters that a lot of people seem to hate when it comes to Halloween time... *sings* Life's no fun without a good scare.

13. Pumpkin spice latte or hot chocolate?
If it were not for a deeply seated, totally embedded and general disgust for coffee... I would have tried a pumpkin spice latte long time ago. Alas, I always feel malaise whenever I near the coffee shop thinking "this year's the year!". Hot chocolate is the logical choice for me... better yet, make it a chocolate chai latte or a london fog!
Confession #7: I tried coffee when I was a child, since that is the only drink my mother and father ever seem to drink... it was so bitter and horrible even with cream and sugar that I vomited immediately. I have never again tried it since.

And that concludes this tag, heh.

I will now in turn tag some fellow bloggers:

I hope to see your answers to these questions soon!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Freakshow Films: A Fantastic Fear of Everything.

Growing up I've always heard that there will come a time when the greatest enemy I would face is myself. It's hard to put that into the perspective of a person who typically hasn't lived long enough to understand the depth of that warning.

So, how does one really prepare for such an intangible battle? For starters, popping some popcorn might help.

Tonight's feature I bequeath a tale of a protagonist battling his own demons in what I believe to be a cinematic work of art-- a tale told through the surreal scope of the cerebrum.

Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything.

Despite being in my queue since it's arrival on Netflix, there was never a better time then now when I chose to finally watch this film.

To quote the synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:
Jack (Simon Pegg) is a children's author turned crime novelist whose detailed research into the lives of Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck, persecuted by an irrational fear of being murdered. When Jack is thrown a life-line by his long-suffering agent, and a mysterious Hollywood executive takes a sudden and inexplicable interest in Jack's script, what should be his 'big break' rapidly turns into his 'big breakdown' as Jack is forced to confront his worst fears; among them love, laundry and serial killers.
Sure it has received a slew of mixed reviews, but yours truly does recommend it fully-- especially if you're in a sort of existential bind and in the mood for a redeeming comic story that will poke fun at your own black cloud... or in this case, your unpeeled banana.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Mabel by Swoon.

I told myself I wouldn't make another bag, but I am constantly lying to myself about these things.
Not when there's so much out there to sew.

Like indie pattern companies-- like Swoon.
I am in no way affiliated with them... I just love to gawk at their bag patterns and trying out the engine through their free pattern section. A test ride, if you will. I'll make a legitimate purchase... I will! I just have weird issues committing myself to doing it.

It really is weird.

I am trying to find myself the perfect body for a bag that will ultimately become my go-to bag. Something not huge, not tiny, but has lots of character... and it must be a cross-body.

I put the Mabel in my queue after I had finished the Ethel, but for whatever reason I kept pushing it back.

When I joined the closed swap, it gave me a fine reason to take it for a spin, and see how I liked constructing it, the way it looked and felt-- and of course to make someone happy in the process too!

Cathartic cat pincushion approves.

What I liked best about this pattern was its stellar use of what is essentially scraps. I made this using an equivalent to four fat quarters (two of each print) and some black scraps from my heap, and it is very surprisingly roomy and big!

So now I don't think I'll feel so guilty buying a tiny bit of fabric that I like but probably would never wear as a garment. A little bit of how I felt with this particular fabric-- I mean it's insanely cute, but I just haven't found the right garment pattern for it. Perhaps an underbust... hmm...

As I tend to do with most patterns that fall into my hands, I made a couple small changes-- turning it into a cross-body purse from a little handbag. I also chose to make the side gussets contrasting in black, and the lining in a orange and black polka dot; I'm all about that contrast.

The pattern uses the method of applying iron on interfacing to stabilizer thats been adhered to the fabric using basting spray, something I am still not that sure is the most efficient way to add body to any bag. I've heard of the method before, and even after this bag, I am still tentative about it. Kinda made my room stink once that basting spray heated up under the iron. Basting spray is also super messy, and stinky of itself when you're spraying it on-- I don't really use it much, I must confess.

It got the job done, but again, I don't think it's the best method, though perhaps the most readily available/economic to people. I have a few ideas, but I'd have to take it to the creative laboratory for testing, heh.

As with the Ethel tote, the instructions are also delightfully easy to understand, though take that with a grain of salt, as I am speaking with heaps and heaps of bias on my back having spent many hours acquainting myself with sewing jargon. On the whole though... I think it'd make a great intermediate bag project, just like the Ethel; I'd consider making this one before the Ethel, though, some aspects of the Ethel are just slightly teetering towards difficult.

There is one thing I wanted to illustrate through images that I didn't when I completed the Ethel and Mabel, but I forgot to take photos of the entire process again; it'll make the description more than a little difficult to understand, but here goes...

It has to do with the magnetic closure the two bags have, basically ignore what the package tells you on how to apply it. There is a washer with two vertical holes flanking a central hole-- instead of using the prods to dent the fabric to mark it as the instructions suggest, simply align the central hole on the washer to your marking on the fabric, and then use the vertical holes to mark where the prods will go and how long the cut needs to be. Perfect application every time, and I only realized it after I had messed up with the flap portion of the bag, puckering it a bit.

Well, I'm glad I gave the pattern a whirl because it just might've gave me that last push I really needed to buy myself a Swoon Pattern subscription package, heh

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tales of Trial and Terror: Bat Wing Shoes, Polymer Pumpkins, Watery Witches... Oh My!

Its been entirely too long since I've dabbled in anything outside my sewing bubble.

Partly because fabric has officially overtaken my craft room, but mostly because I still haven't been reunited with the supplies and tools I have stored at my momma's house back in Canada.

When I was invited to participate in a closed Halloween swap, I jumped at the chance to let my creativity really flow-- the chance to make someone happy with Halloween goods is an odd pleasure of mine. I think mostly because other than people online, there isn't many people I know who are as enthusiastic about Halloween as I am. I also seem to be the most creative/productive when I know I am making something for someone.

Anyway, this swap gave me a really good excuse to get reacquainted with old crafts, and discover new ones. There were many frustrated sounding "crap"s and "damnit"s heard from the closed doors of my craft room... but despite the sounds and words, I was having the time of my life. How I missed creating halloweeny goods.

Once upon a time, I used to dream of working with polymer clay.
That time has long since passed in favor of other things, mostly grown up things-- like job searching, bill paying, and spending my liquid budget on sewing supplies.
Now that I have the excess of time again and some wiggle room away from sewing, I brought down the unnecessarily large box of white clay from another time I tried getting back to polymer clay creation-- the time I knocked off eyeball hair bows. By the way, I ended up buying liquid polymer clay and it does wonders, I tell you, wonders!

I wanted to make pumpkins... many many pumpkins. Instead I ended up with one. One's a start!

At one point it had a stem; a cute swirly one.
Alas... when I was spraying on the seal, the force of the blast knocked it off the table and smashed it off. I decided to keep it off because if the short fall was able to break it off, then surely dangling from a phone would break it off again. Next time I'll make a thicker stem and try attaching it to an inner wire.
It was also my first time using this brand of seal-- it's from plaid, it's their Matte seal. I can't give an opinion of it because unlike bicycle riding, I forgot the do's and don'ts, and used it under humid conditions-- crap. It remained tacky several hours later, despite having a 30 min cure time. Opps.
Well, one neat aspect of this little charm is that I gave the face a coat of glow in the dark paint... so when the lights are off, its smiling face remains seen. I wish there was a way for me to show just how adorable it is in the dark.

Next, I wanted to make bat wings for shoes.
I don't remember where the heck I saw the project; likely pinterest or facebook; but I knew I just had to make them.

"OMIGAWD BAT WINGS!" totally what Khan is saying.

Well, they turned out pretty successful... after a few failed attempts at making those blasted holes!

I had to bust out my entire arsenal of hole makers. First to be used were my very under used metal punchers inside the coffin which I had purchased at a liquidation mall. No wonder they were under used, because all they managed to do was create an unsightly dent.

Second up was yet another under utilized item from my sewing room... the hole punching pliers. Alas, twas not to be little pliers... you stink at making holes! Maybe I didn't have enough wrist strength for you, though...

I sat for a moment and mulled over my failures, and decided it was because they were not sharp enough. So armed with a 50% off coupon, I went and bought the punches (in blue) from Joanns. After using the plethora of hammers in our household (from rubber to industrial), they did nothing but marr the leather like the rest. I kept them, in case their failure was of my own inexperience... and because the tips were cone shaped, unlike the ones I already had.

Feeling a little defeated, I sat for another moment...
Then it dawned on me that I had the home pro LR that my brother had given me!
There it sat on the shelf, untested on real leather... hmmm.
I made sure to pet it and pray to the sewing gods that my money wasn't invested in vain in this thing, buying all its hard-to-find accessories.

It cut through with a satisfying plunge. Suuuuucccessss. I do wonder what the long term ramifications of making many bat wings are though...

Last but not least, I bought myself a cheap palette of water colors. After water coloring a strip of bacon onto a post card for a friend, it gave me a real taste for the medium-- the palette she had given me was one of those crayola ones with a limited range of color. The one I bought was no different in quality, but had a few more colors to play with.

I had planned to paint this for a little bit in a way; it's from a little halloween party favor; a tiny little notebook. I simply forgot about it until I wanted to add a little bit of everything to the box to be swapped.
I changed the colors and a few details a bit but the image/concept stuck with me for years. I was actually really surprised it turned out the way it did... at first it looked like a horrid mess with no definition. I kept adding too much water, then loading my brush too heavily. Some dabs took too much off, and some dabs moved the paint to a really weird spot.
After it dried, I took an ink pen and created those hard lines; it cleaned it up remarkably well. Funny how a few harsh lines can affect the overall effect of a piece. Perhaps I may even continue to water color... maybe even take a class? One can dream.

These aren't the only contents of the box, mind you. Just ones that took a little more effort on my end to complete-- things that make good...

Trials and terror! Muahaha...
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