Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: 27 Things To Do Before 27... Oh, wait.

June 24.

The day that officially marked my place on the slope where one is no longer considered a "young adult".
Or at least, that's what social media would have you think.

Some people are scared of this turning 30 thing, like that's when all the "adult stuff" really kicks in and you won't have time for adventures. The thing is, I don't feel like my adventures are going to stop suddenly because I'm 27... and I am not one who avidly seeks thrills of any kind. I like things quiet and predictable... but that rarely happens.

I was planning on spending my birthday alone playing my games, and eating corn dogs; my hubby was away on business, and I had all that time to myself.
Well, my colleague ended up taking me out to a dive bar where we soon discovered is was karaoke night. We didn't sing, but there were a number of colorful people who gave it their best... to say the least, heh.

Come the weekend, my hubby returned home only to take me out to White Sands national park.

I have never seen any sand dunes before... and White Sands was quite a sight.
It had rained the previous night, so there was still some initial cloud coverage-- the sand was cool and refreshing... and so easy to build sand skulls out of!

One of my few temporary contributions to the dunes... I failed to take a picture of my rabbit on a platter, my beetle, and my spider. Maybe someone out there came upon these before the sun dried them up, and wind blew them away, heh.

That tiny figure back there be my hubby.
I could not have had better weather to visit-- they say it becomes too unbearable to enjoy during the summer, but because of the storm we were able to stay out and enjoy the sand for several hours. We saw a few people sledding on the slopes... it made me wish we had a sled to do the same, but lying back on the sand felt like a good consolation.

You'd never guess that these vast white dunes is just past mountains covered in green aromatic pine.

You can juuust make out the dunes to the right of this panorama, if you enlarge it-- the weather changes from pretty cold to pretty hot in that short distance. Nature is wild.

When we started our way back through Cloudcroft, we decided to stop, do a little exploring and get some lunch. 

A town whose mainstay is pine, cherries, and some damn fine Texas style barbecue. There is something about these sleepy towns tucked away in the woods that makes my heart flutter. We ate at Mad Jack's Mountaintop BBQ... and I just gotta say, I never had bbq that good before, and I love bbq. The smell of the smokers lured us in, and a lady in the line kept us there. She told us how she never goes anywhere else for her brisket. 
She was right. After having a simple brisket sandwich with a few jalapenos, and some awesome mac n' cheese, I wouldn't want to go anywhere else either. I washed it down with some black cherry soda and a cherry cobbler. Mmmm.
Mad Jack buys his meat fresh, and in limited quantities so when he sells out, there's no more for the day.

All through the drive, it felt like aromatherapy... the wet pine gave off an almost sweet and fresh smell, I could not keep my window closed-- even though I was cold as hell. I only packed warm weather clothes for the dunes...

I really wish I had found out about all this before moving so far away...
Just today I hear of Sitting Bull falls, just outside of Carlsbad. Damnit all.
My hubby never tells me anything... only when we're just about to leave...

I wasn't able to kick off my one pattern a week because of this weekend getaway. Not that I'm complaining by any stretch. I was able to cut and make some quick adjustments to the latest pattern: McCall's 6887. I am cutting out view A, and drafting in a peter pan collar.

I have my fabrics all chosen. We got in some cat fabric at the shop... and that got me to thinking; I need a cat dress. I chose a black sequins material for the collar, which I will embellish with pyramid studs. The only thing keeping me from completing this dress quickly is the rather troublesome need to shorten that open-back-princess-seamed bodice. I just haven't had a chance over the weekend to really tackle it properly, though perhaps my quick adjustments may have done it... I still have to make up the mock to see for sure, but the tissue fit looked ok. 

I got pretty excited over my Joann's haul when I visited San Antonio just the other night-- I bought many of Simplicity's retro line. I busted many of my retro reprints out because... because I could.

I am very likely going to make up to-do list for this pattern a week endeavor of mine. I have so many cute halloween prints to make all of these up, and then some. Perhaps in the subsequent post, I will feature my intended patterns on a month by month basis. I am very excited about this!

Yet another thing to be excited about is Professor Z's currently running contest. It ends on the 4th so enter quick to have a chance at winning Gertie's Book For Better Sewing!
I haven't been following Gertie, but if her Butterick collection is any indication on the amount of awesomeness she exudes, then I'll quickly become a big fan.

Spooky ya later!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: The Galaxy is on Mortem's Dress-- New Look 6020

I used to be fairly proud of the fact that I haven't touched or owned a commercial sewing pattern during my journey through sewing self tutelage.

That is no more.

Yes, long are the days gone when I had and took the time to do all that self drafting nonsense-- all the aches, and pains of the ample amounts of trial and error.

Now, I am sitting on approximately 201 commercial sewing patterns, all acquired in the past 2 likely 3 years... and the collection just keeps growing. I don't even think I have that many repeat styles... I think...

It's like an infection that stays inflamed, and it's especially hard to ignore once you start seeing the pattern behind the annual $1.00 sales.

Last week, while we were in San Antonio looking for an apartment (which we ended up finding! Yay), Joann's was having a moonlight madness (or something to that effect) and their Simplicity patterns were all $1.99... I came back to New Mexico with less than I anticipated, but still more than my dear hubby wanted me to.

Along with a plethora of patterns (approximately 18), I also brought back a selection of fabrics I've had my eye on for some time... but never bought. Somehow, they stuck around Joann's roster long enough for me to finally make up my mind.

Among them was an eye catching galaxy print. The pattern may not be from this very recent haul, but I've been dying to sew it up since I bought it last year, but I kept flip flopping as to what I'd use for fabric, in my usual way.

This is New Look 6020. Princess seamed dresses with neckline variations, including options for clutch purses.

I chose view D, since princess seams and sweetheart necklines are, in my opinion, utterly timeless... like space! Heh... ok that was bad...

I was 60% convinced that this pattern would give me issues, particularly with the princess seams, what with the running disappointment that past New Look patterns have offered in ill-fitting dilemmas. 

This was not the case. 

This was a complete cake-walk. Other than my usual vertically challenged adjustments, this did not need anymore altering-- well, I did substitute the side zipper for an invisible one, and instead of 14 inches I opted for a 9 inch one. That being said, full bust adjustments are going to be needed for those of you who are well endowed. I stayed up all night to sew it up, though that was completely unintentional-- the sun decided to bring me back to reality while I was binge watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.

It's 6 am and I am heading to bed!
So, from when I started copying the pattern, making the alterations on my muslin, and sewing up the final garment, and of course pausing for long intervals to pay attention to what was going on... this dress took roughly 8 hours.

It was during one of those "I am paying attention to the good parts!" that Khan decided to lay and claw on my work, and got more than he bargained for.

Ouch. I know your pain, Khan

I heard a little yelp, and turned around fast enough to see him jump higher than I've ever seen him jump. This is not the first time he messed with my sewing projects, but it was the first time it bit back.
Thankfully it was just a superficial little pin prick he suffered, but it sure taught him what for. I thought for sure the iron would teach him the lesson, as he tried many times to nuzzle the plate while it was on, inching closer and closer each time.

When the night was over, little Khan and I retired to our safe and comfy bed... after I finalized the entire night with a few shots of the entire dress.

It's truly amazing what a little bit of eyeliner, a touch of red lipstick, and a quick pat down with some hair pudding will do to a sleep-deprived person.

Going back to the subject of having so many patterns, I came to the realization that at my current pace I will never sew and enjoy all these wonderful garments just waiting to come to fruition in my lifetime. So, for my 27th birthday (next week) I have decided to attempt to sew a garment a week at most, or two garments a month. It'll take tremendous efforts in time management (which I always fail horribly because I get hooked on gaming or show watching), but I am very determined!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Sithfully Sewn

What would life be without our men.
It is with that in mind (and father's day around the bend) that I decided to show my man how much I appreciate him.

Not to say I don't always, with affection and all that gushy mushy stuff... but I don't always get around to making the things I plan to make him. That list in itself, is probably as long as my typical sewing queue.

This week is different, though. This week I was craving to explore a new(ish) territory-- I wanted to make him a functioning casual outfit. Not unlike the things I have made in the past, like his house shorts and bleach art shirts (which I have made plenty of variations since); these things are of a more... home bodied nature.

I went pattern browsing, in my usual way... only this time I was searching for men's patterns. Let me say this: there isn't a whole lot to pick from-- we women have it easy in the subject of sewing pattern pickin's.
What I ended up deciding I would make are the McCall's patterns 6973 and 2149. Pretty basic, as far as silhouettes go, but very "buildable". I chose view C from 2149, and view F from 6973.

My conclusion after this hearty endeavor is this: my man is incredibly difficult to sew for.
Not in the technical aspects, no... that part took all of maybe two days, which is probably a gross overestimation-- it was incredibly easy, I enthusiastically encourage all to get these patterns if you're hankering to sew something for your S.O. It was getting him to shop for the fabric with me, get him to stand still during fittings, and really just getting him to do the fittings at all; that was the hardest part, that part took dang near a week.

The things we do for love.

There's still some issues that I haven't bothered yet to resolve though they're very minor. The more important ones I've carried out-- they were caused by his short stature. I decreased wherever it was possible to do so; sleeves, bodice, legs.

The fabric was a happy accident, in more than one way.
I was wracking my brain as to which fabric I would use, something that would really accentuate his quirky and geeky personality.
While taking my pass by the Walmart's fabric section (like I always do when going grocery shopping), I saw a bolt of this most perfect Darth Vader print staring right at me-- at $4.95 per yard, it was a done deal. I got my cuts and went along my way. When we arrived home we recounted our receipt and noticed something peculiar... I was only charged for one yard of fabric, and I had gotten three. I probably should've gone back and disputed it but just this once I'd like to believe that karma smiled on me that day... so I kept it. I know tip for tap is wrong, and not the way karma actually works, but that very same visit, I dashed out to the parking lot to let the two men ahead of me at the check out know that they had forgotten a few sacks of their groceries.

Excuse the long tangent, but it was a nice and seemingly perfect accident. Anyway, I digress.
The lesser issues are the point at which the shoulders lie-- way off mark-- and the depth at which the buttons were placed. Perhaps the buttons aren't even an issue, particularly because they give him a little more coverage around his waist... but those shoulders are a blight to my seamstress-y ways. Definitely going to go into more detailing in the subsequent shirts. I'm also going to note, that the breast pocket needs interfacing; I hoped that the fact it was a kona cotton, that the natural body of it would suffice, but looking and looking at it, I'm not all that pleased with the finish of it.... maybe it's the square shape of it... I can't put my finger on it, to tell you all the truth...

The fabric really made the shirt-- the extra touches I added were not that significant. I contrasted the facing, so that the contrasting collar and pocket didn't look so awkward, like they do on the pattern image. I topped it all off with cherry red top stitching-- worthy of the sith lord himself.

Finally, the shorts! Since I am not new to pants any longer, I didn't find the shorts at all challenging... that is, until I got to the front fly zipper. What can I say, I have never done one before. I reread that section over and over again, until I finally caved and consulted Youtube. After that the instructions did make a whole lot of sense, hehe. I felt a little silly in fact. That side pocket became a little bit of a problem, only because I had shortened the length so much it was right at the seam for the inside pockets. I still don't like the placement; them being so close to the cuff and all... but it was the most logical because my husband did not want it on the front nor the back.
The only design changes I've made with these are the snaps to the flap of the side pocket, and the addition of the cuffs along the hem.

Perhaps I'll create him an outfit for the premier of the new Star Wars...hmm...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Swooning Over Nightmare.

With all the natural dealings in getting a home to sell, I have been tying up the loose ends here in New Mexico. What that means for me is having more of my time off for myself during the time I wait for inspections to clear-- I'm so very close to finishing up all my obligations. Except for that Doctor Who scarf, and copying a few borrowed patterns, there doesn't seem to be anything else on my craft agenda.

In the last year, I garnered quite a collection of patterns and supplies for just the occasion when I am unbound by promises. Although, like many crafters, I am not exactly beginning at the beginning... because... well... I don't remember that far back into my personal project queue, heh. I am starting somewhere near the end, but not so new enough that I feel too guilty about starting with recent acquisitions.

Back in April, the shop I work at received a shipment of Nightmare Before Christmas fabric. Naturally I purchased 6 yards of it for my stash. I didn't know what I was going to use it for, at first... but who really does with their impulse purchases?
One thing's for sure, I knew I wanted to make an accessory rather than an article of clothing first from it...

A little earlier in the year I discovered Swoon Patterns. Just by looking at their front page, I knew I needed to try them out one day, and they offer just the opportunity in their free pattern page. The Ethel Tote appealed to me instantly.

My introduction with Swoon had me on cloud 9. 
My first bag came out so damn cute; I made it from Batgirl fabric and had given it to a good friend of mine. I wanted to make one for myself, but my purse needs require either backpack straps or cross body straps, and some closures-- nothing else.

Well, that meant modifying the original pattern to include all the extras I wanted. Instead of adding the straps to the front and back main panels, I added D-rings to the side panels and just made one long strap. 

I cut a strip for a little closure over the top opening, because it gaped way too much for my liking. 
I added a magnetic snap because I have never used one before and I thought it might be neat to make the closure a little more decorative using an embroidery lace bat pattern I bought from Urban Threads last year.

On my first purse, the thing that had slowed me down was the inside zippered pocket. As beautiful as it ended up, I felt like it needed just a tiny bit more explaining or even suggestions/tips on that part of the instructions.

Wrong side view.
Can't even tell there is something behind it, let alone the small square piece.
It basically asks you to guess the location of the zippered pocket piece that is laying on the front, while you're stitching on the lines from the wrong side.. but tells you to make sure there's at least half an inch on either side and top. So what I did my second go around, and to ultimately take out the guess work, was pin at the important points of the strip, so when I turned it over I now had my feeler edges.

I was then able to tell where the boundaries of the drawn rectangle were on the right side and align it all together with much more accuracy.

Other design details I have chosen to add was piping to the front pocket, along with fussy cutting it so that the design of the fabric remained a little intact. I used three types of fabric in total for this piece, which I am particularly proud of; opening up a pocket reveals a different fabric.

I am so very happy with this bag pattern, it's a very spacious and easy bag to put together; even to customize like I did. I completed my second bag within a viewing of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, heh-- that's how all crafters gauge speed of completion, amirite? The instructions were pleasantly easy to read and follow-- it gives me so much hope for the time when I'm ready to purchase their other luscious bag patterns.
I have my eye on that blanche barrel bag... 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Spooky Basket: Oddball Sewing Essentials.

The list of sewing essentials will differ from sewist to sewist. I have personally made lists for notions you can make, notions you can buy (here and here), and notions that I've thrifted.

Lists are fun to make-- especially sewing related lists.

I also understand that most of my lists comprise of items that are typically not in everyone's budget at the start, and in the best of cases not exactly "essential" (but really, if you had the chance, you should buy them because they do make life so much easier).

When I first began sewing, and I mean seriously about it, my sewing box had some oddball things I had reclaimed for the purposes I needed in order to get my sewing done.

Sewing is funny that way; you think you'll never see a need for something until you actually come upon the circumstance which simultaneously gives you that ahh-ha and aww-darn, gleaning to the ohhh hey moment.

The sewing stiletto.

Marti Michell
You've probably seen various types of stiletto awls, from the recent bamboo variants to the mother of peal handled antiquarian commodities. I first found its use when I began working with tiny/fiddly seams that required a close encounter with the needle and my finger-- like those found when working with lightweight wovens that you can't exactly iron without ruining.

To this day, I have not given up the convenience and price of a manicure orange stick. These are literally available in any dollar store in the world, and the added bonus (a recent revelation, thanks to pinterest) of potentially having toe separators that I use to store bobbins.

Sewing Machine Cleaning Kits.

Most universal cleaning kits will look like the ones above-- they'll have some machine oil, some screwdrivers and a basic stiff brush.
Since a sewing machine has more tight crannies than a natural cave, this just isn't enough. Eventually dust and fluff will accumulate in the deeper crevices where you can't really reach with the basic tools, effectively lowering your machines efficiency... it might even break, and you might assume its the quality of the machine when that might not be the case.

Included with my basic cleaning gear my cleaning kit has:

  • A feather powder brush (mine came with shimmer powder from Quo makeup)
  • A head lamp 
  • A dental pick set
  • A spoolie brush
  • Microfiber lens cloth

It's difficult to locate an exact source for the feather powder brush with the thin pliable shaft I have, but it looks just like this and is of the utmost use when cleaning out a machine that cannot be sprayed with canned air.

Anna Sui
It appears Anna Sui once made one called the 'Finishing Brush' but has since been discontinued. A fingerprint brush might work well, but I have never tried it.

A headlamp is another essential tool for cleaning because your machine should obviously be off when you're digging around inside, but it's a little cumbersome trying to angle a lamp or juggle a flash light in such a situation; it wouldn't be a hard to see area if light were able to reach all spots of a machines innards easily.

The dental pick set is great to reach in even harder and more delicate areas of your machine; I use the scaler to grab little lumps of oily lint, and the mirror to guide me around. I found my set at the dollar store, it included a tooth brush which I also use for cleaning mucky gears.

I use a spoolie brush for areas that need all around cleaning with very little side to side movement, such as the bobbin race.

Lastly the microfiber lens cloth, because it doesn't leave lint behind like a regular cloth. Heh. I get one free every time I get a new pair of glasses.

Pattern Paper.

This is one I am always asked about, and I am honestly shocked every time it happens; where do I get my pattern paper?
It would be nice if I could afford yards and yards of the stuff with grids and dots on it, but I waste and use so much of it I have to turn to more economical choices.
I use simple and plain white gift tissue, meticulously glued together with an equally plain glue stick. Seriously.

Since I never cut into a purchased pattern, I make a point to copy it onto tissue paper-- the tissue paper also makes it easier when you're making adjustments of the pattern pinned onto yourself or your form, or you're turning it into a sloper. Once my adjustments have been made, and I consider the pattern tried and true, I glue the altered piece onto thicker paper with a spray on glue for continuous use and abuse. I get my tissue paper at the dollar store, and I had purchased a large roll of butcher's paper from some supply market that has so far lasted me going onto 2 years now. It's very very cheap, so I don't feel bad if I mess up.

Ok so my list isn't that odd or even that exciting... if not for the fact that so few of the ladies I encounter at the fabric shop realize these little tidbits, you might even call them simple.

Share some of your own "reclaimed" sewing essentials in the comments!

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