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 ┼ávankmajer 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!

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