Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: McCall's 7019

Ok, so when I took a break from my sewing due to an overload of tote bag creation... I expected to explore my horizons, and perhaps pick up on other hobbies that have been left behind in Canada-- like wire working, or sculpting with polymer clay, or even henna wood burning! Yeah, that thought was exciting...

What I didn't expect from this period of liberty was for it to sling me into a creative slump.
It took all my energy just to flip the switches of my machines; an action that I took more pleasure out of then I should've in the past.

Thankfully, by the grace of some deity, I pooled enough motivation to sew something last night. It was something easy, heh; high satisfaction, short build up.

It was McCall's 7019, variation pull over knit tops. I had my eye on view C for its apparent bustleyness (lolwut?). I am also going to give myself a pat on the back for using fabric that is older than a year old to my stash. I used a black interlock knit with open work pattern, and a very beautiful heliotrope spiderweb foil nylon filament material-- both from Joann's. I don't care that the latter fabric is cheap costume stuff, it's gorgeous! This combination of colors is my absolute favorite.

I must admit, my sewing is getting less and less exciting... part of that is because I really don't go out. No really.
Generally, I go outside (literally step outside my door) once maybe twice a week-- not including work hours, of course. That is why I make such a good employee-- I have no social life to speak of, so primarily my focus is work. When I don't have work, such as my current state, I become one with my zodiacal sign; the crab.

What does that have to do with the apparent simplicity of this particular project? Actually nothing, but I didn't say I wasn't prone to tangents. This top was truly deliberately plain; my train of thought was to make a better compliment to my corsets and waist belts, to kind of soften them up for casual wear. Something elongated, had a little something to it, but wasn't overly froofy. The hi-low hem was the sell point...

I tried making lettuce hems on this via pull and stretch method, but I didn't quite succeed; the weft and warp of the flounces were both cooperative and uncooperative, leaving me with a half assed look. In order to cut down on the costume factor of my focus material, I sewed the silver foil down, so that the webs were not as in your face in person.
I cut out a size 16, because I wanted a little bagginess to the top itself-- I'm split as to whether or not I like the silhouette it casts, but it is supremely comfy. Especially when I put on the accessories it was intended for.

I made zero attempts to modify the pattern, and I wish I had because I don't think I like the neck band either. Seems a little big, even for a size 16-- next time I think I'll just overlock and understitch, seems like that might give it a much better finish. I am also kicking myself for not going with my initial gut feeling of just cutting out the half sleeve instead of the full sleeve... way too much sleeve for this style of top. I'll have to go back and redo that.

Overall I think I would give this pattern a C. The neckband turns an otherwise nice top into something borderline juvenile. I would remove it or thin it out by about half the thickness. The long sleeves are not flattering in the least on a pear shape or hourglass, best to halve them regardless of the view-- the long sleeves bring way too much attention down where there is already some due to the placement of the gussests and flounces. Having them at the elbow helps to create a visual balance.

A nice evening project, I would say-- to remove yourself from a creative funk. Gets those juices back to a flowing state... so now I have to continue tackling the knitting of that Doctor Who scarf... almost done...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mortem's Apothecarium: A Hairy Situation.

Lots of things have been happening.
So much, that I am deciding to trickle it throughout the subsequent posts so as to not overwhelm my blog with too many of my life updates. Plus I lose a lot of writing steam when I make the posts too "private life" specific.

It's been a while since I posted in my apothecarium, I've been taking a short break from my sewing since the first projects to come out of my awesome and most fabulous sewing room were two of those dreaded totes I kept making in New Mexico. How ironic that one of them is made with Cowboys material, though they're both shipping back to NM...

I hope they're the last two I'll make in a really long time. These make my 9th and 10th totes, and if you know me, you'll know I absolutely detest making something that many times... but I am a people pleaser, and if I can make people happy then I am quick to say yes.
I am often asked how I don't burn out sooner from sewing, it's simply because I keep my projects fresh and new. When I don't, I do burn out as thus.

Anyway, Texas has taught me a lot about myself in the short month or so... like, I never knew my allergies could get any worse than they were.
It's been so bad that my entire body was thrown off tune. I was exhausted everyday, though I don't even have a job except to keep the house tidy. My eyes burn, my skin itches and I sneeze all. The. Damn. TIME. With being so exhausted, and not feeling so attractive because of it all I have really neglected my image.

So I began tackling my problems one minor symptom at a time, starting with my hair.

The most I did/do with my hair these days is throw it into a tail and make pretend beards with it...
It was all I could do! Something in my body was whacky!

Though it seems that by saying something went whacky, I suddenly grew hair in odd places... no, it is not so, heh. My hair was oily. Not in the "starting to look a little rough" kind of two day oil, but in the "Did one of BP's carriers have an oopsie on your head?!"

Call the clean up crew, this one's a doozy
It was clunky, chunky and really dang gunky. Washing my hair everyday only exacerbated the issue, as one might assume... but I was desperate. I felt filthy even after I had showered. I tried an ACV rinse, but even after 2 weeks it did nothing. So I tried letting a couple days pass between showers, and it started looking like that might work. It wasn't quick enough, though-- I was self conscious every time I stepped out the door, which in turn amplified my already severe social anxieties, and low self esteem.

While at Sprouts I took a detour to try and find myself a clarifying shampoo, because I've done the whole adding essential oils into my shampoo and I just didn't feel like going through a very cluttered tiny bathroom/shower again. I know a lot about the clarifying effects of tea tree oil, so I had a general idea of what to look for. I took home a bottle of Nature's Gate Tea Tree shampoo omitting the conditioner, since conditioner on an oily scalp is not typically recommended during a cleanse.

I never used Nature's Gate before, never even heard of it till I went looking down the aisle, and I only briefly read the reviews on my phone before buying it.

It is amazing. Simply amazing. After one wash the oiliness was reduced greatly-- I had a single grease spot near the nape of my neck (which has always been my trouble spot). Second time around, my entire scalp was clean! Success!
Although, because I haven't been using conditioner in the shower my ends have been rather thirsty, so I started using leave-ins again just around the ends-- I am currently using Palmer's coconut oil hair milk.

This combination has been working pretty awesomely. Plus my hair is all levels of wonderful smelling, too. Who knew tea tree oil and peppermint complimented coconut so well?

I didn't want to go back to showering everyday, though I wanted to-- the tingly and clean sensations of this shampoo are addictive.
I am still very much about water conservation here, so my research extended into dry shampoos. I admit for the sake of my wallet a bit, too; spending $10 on a small bottle (I might add) of tea tree shampoo, and $9 for the conditioner for my amount of hair is going to prove expensive in the long run if I don't make the most of each dollop of product in these bottles.

I was looking for a more simple ingredient make up for dry shampoo brands... but my visit back to Sprouts for that yielded a unanimous 'hell no'. They were expensive-- yeouch. My research then took a U-turn into DIY, as it tends to do when faced with a predicament like this.

I found the most common recipe for a homemade dry shampoo is arrowroot powder with equal parts cocoa powder for darker haired maidens. However, and this is going to take away some of my Halloweenite points, but here goes...
I didn't fancy the idea of my hair smelling of chocolate.
... I know, I know!
Chocolate belongs in my belly, not so much my head...
I began altering the recipe using essential oils that not only benefit my scalp, but also overpower the cocoa smell.

Patchouli and Eucalyptus. Yep... they certainly did the trick. I mixed and mixed till the powder was pretty much infused with their scent. I then sifted the powder to take out the chunks of resiny patchouli, and my mixture was done.

I cleaned out an old gum container to store the powder in for use. It's actually pretty handy, those little containers-- they have a spout for small deposits, or you can open the big flap. I bought a $3 brush from Wet n' Wild to apply the powder to my head, because sprinkling it onto my scalp posed a challenge of applying too much on my floor sometimes...

I applied it onto 4 day hair, which was surprisingly not as greasy as my second picture (that shampoo is magic). It gave me a glimpse of what I may look like with greying spots, and I actually kind of liked it. I have always thought greying patches on people look ultra fetching and distinguished-- here's looking at your greying doll's out there! You make my heart swoon.

The results? Even more surprising...

That's 4 day unwashed hair? WUT?!

I think I recovered a bit of my spark again.
I've been playing around with a lot of really easy and cute styles-- I might just go ahead with my intention of posting a list of my favorites, too-- and they are easy, I promise... take it from someone who can only make a barely passable bun and braid, heh.

Edit to add:
I feel like a putz, I didn't write in the recipe for the altered powder!
I made a tiny batch, but it looks like it'll last  me a month when used in conjunction with the brush; minimal waste, maximum coverage.

You'll need:

  • 1 part arrowroot powder-- 1 tbsp
  • 1 part cocoa powder-- 1 tbsp
  • 2 parts parts patchouli oil-- 8 drops
  • 1 part eucalyptus oil-- 4 drops
You'll mix it with a tiny whisk for 10 mins, and then sift it into a container of your choosing. Brush onto oily parts of your scalp and let sit for 5 mins before brushing it out. Look into mirror and admire!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: San Antonio Rose-- A Lengthy Update.

Well folks, it took a while... but I think I might actually be settling in finally.

Home, sweet Texas, home!
I admit, when we reached the state line my mind was flooded with visions of good barbecue and dearest Patsy Cline, hahah. I ached to hear a deep Southern accent-- I might be fool, but I actually like it quite a bit. Sadly, the only accent I got was a mild one from our Dish cable guy, heh. Plenty of time for that, I suppose.

For the first week we lived without all of our stuff. It was actually pretty rough-- I got mad carpet burns on all the weirdest places since we didn't have a stick of furniture yet. I know it has only been a year since Arizona and having carpet, but our house in New Mexico spoiled us... I forgot about the drudgery that comes with the territory. I have short term memory when it comes to that sort of thing.

The biggest conundrum was figuring out how to fit a very large house and all its contents into one kinda-cramped-apartment.

When our stuff arrived, the house looked pretty much like my sewing room did. The only space available was the space you needed to maneuver the chaos, and the only storage available was an outdoor closet on the patio, and one near the front door, both making up less space then the side bedroom closet.

Inevitably, there were many, many... many... visits to the thrift store to unload the items that we were hoarding, or no longer had a use for like garden tools. To think, we gave up quite a bit back in New Mexico-- I can't imagine how tight things would be if we had kept it all.

Despite all those trips, we still had to get a little creative with the space available to us. One exciting aspect I was looking forward to was that somehow, some way, I convinced my husband that my sewing room would be better suited for the master bedroom, and he agreed! I am glad... because in reality, it did make the most sense, since we don't typically spend a lot of conscious time in the bedroom; all we had was a bed and a dresser-- the space would have been very underutilized. Plus, it was the only bedroom with more than one window and an overhead light... which I thought was very odd.

As of yesterday, the sewing room is finally up and ready for action! I haven't ever had the pleasure of a sewing space this large all to myself-- it's quite a treat!

It might require re-tweaking where I have placed all the items and things, but I am thrilled beyond belief. I have complete tables dedicated to my machines, my cutting space... and one of two of my most proudest additions... *drumroll*

A large rectangular ironing board with storage underneath! My husband and I were heavily debating getting rid of this once shoe cubby, which we had two of... and then it hit me: I gave up my ironing board, and I have always wanted to DIY one of these things since first discovering the project on Pinterest. It was just the right height to pull it off, so off we went to Home Depot and Joann's to pick up everything we needed to slap this together. The top is completely detachable, but fits very snug onto the cubby so that it won't shift in the least when on. I bought some fabric drawers from walmart and viola!

Since our main bedroom was now in the second bedroom, I could not dedicate the closet space to just my fabric...

The image doesn't do this closet size justice, as we were able to fit our gigantic 5 foot long solid wood dresser on the other side. Naturally, it still swallowed up a lot of the space... but I managed to fit a "little" portion of my fabric stash on the side presently shown. The lesser yardages of fabric remain within several xerox boxes atop the dresser inside the closet.

The rest of my stash (that wasn't put onto bolts and couldn't fit into xerox boxes) had to go underneath the machine table. I actually do think I have a fabric addiction; it's easily triple digit yards of fabric, but I really don't want to let go of a single yard lol...
I guess you can see why I have had a sense of urgency to bust my stash lately, with the equal triple digit amount of patterns I have acquired.

I can never claim to have nothing to do till my 50's.

And now, the pièce de résistance...

Meet, Ophelia... ain't she a vision?
Unfortunately, Frankiestein had to retire. I was honestly surprised she made it as far as she did, but she could not endure yet another move. Truth be told, if she was carefully packed, I would still be using her... but she suffered the indecency of poor packaging (or none at all, in this case). I was truly devastated about what happened to Frankiestein; a lot of love and work went into her, so while she is no longer going to be used to sew, she will remain a nice thing to look at once I pop out all the collapsed bits of her.

Ophelia is beautiful in many ways, but being as perfect as she is has made her inherently flawed... in that she is too perfect to be me, at the moment. Most of my body is a size 12, but places like my bust, hips and derriere (places that matter when it comes to fit) are 14-16. I had to purchase the Fabulous Fit pads if she was to surpass her predecessor.
Like Frankiestein's name suggested, every single aspect of her was patched together, including when I had to pad her up in size. I am not going to do that with Ophelia; even though Ophelia was a bargain compared to most professional dress forms, I still saw her as a huge investment that I want to last longer than Frankie, so I opted to go the whole nine.

You read right, Ophelia was a bargain. Honestly, how affordable she was gave me the opportunity to  purchase of the Fabulous Fit kit along with her. You would definitely not think it to look at her

While looking for opinions from some of my favorite sewing bloggers, sifting through all the reviews at different shops, trudging through forums... I wasn't convinced that a household dress form was for me anymore. I take my sewing seriously now, and I felt an undeniable urge for the next step; I began searching professional dress forms. During my search I came upon LLady Bird that reviews a dress form from The Shop Company; I am very jealous of the fact she received hers for free, I wish that kind of thing happened to my blog *hint hint* hehe. It then lead me to Gertie's post about the same dress form from the same shop, where in it she offers a coupon that still worked (it still does, as far as I can tell). It got me to seriously thinking about taking the plunge...

Indeed, The Shop Company does offer some pretty competitive prices as the two bloggers have stated, however, I am a bargain shopper and "shopping risk taker" by default; somehow I felt like I was able to get a slightly bigger bang for my buck.
I searched other venues for a potentially cheaper price for the same product. Trust me when I say, I don't take my risks lightly... the decision to purchase from Fashion Display on Amazon was made after a ton of deliberation (and one sleepless night). Fashion Display has a horrid return policy, stating a 35% restocking fee along with cost of shipping back being up to the buyer... but the form was $50 less than TSC's and $30 less than the current sale at Roxy Display's site. It came with a complimentary arm that TSC does not offer but Roxy does.
A savings of $50 doesn't seem like much when you're spending this amount on something... so it seemed like an unnecessary risk to take, but go see the cost of good thread alone and tell me $50 isn't anything, haha.

Cast iron base, cage intact.
I spent the subsequent days after making the purchase anxious if I had made the right decision. When she arrived Friday, I was stunned that my gamble had paid off. She was perfect. The instructions to put her together were a touch confusing, but a video on Youtube quickly demystified the process.

What is so shocking to me was that she cost exactly the same amount as one of those Dritz forms from Joann's if you were to ship it from online. She is not a huge jump in price even if you bought a form outright from Joann's storefront. Crazy!

Other than all the updates and additions to my sewing room, things have been fairly status quo considering having moved to another state. The cats had a little trouble adjusting to a much smaller place-- Poe was suffering a rash due to allergies and anxiety, and Khan had an ear infection (which he is prone to when stressed). They're both doing really well now, and their ailments have cleared up after a visit to the vet-- it was such a wonderful place, too, such caring people! The cats took the treatments like champs, not a single fuss was made.

Things are really great here in Texas so far, and I can't believe how many choices there are for craft and fabric stores!

Expect to continue seeing much sewing madness!
Spook ya later!

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