Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spooky Basket: Small Solutions, Big Differences.

I know I haven't been sewing much lately, but that doesn't mean the acquisition of new sewing gadgetry has halted. In fact, it would be much the opposite... it seems the amount of buying such finery has reached "plunderer" levels of audacity.

To begin, back when I purchased Ophelia, I had a nagging suspicion that eventually I will either gain lots of weight or sustain it, so I preemptively bought the Fabulous Fit kit along with her. Funny enough, I had lost enough weight after the initial post that I was a "model" 12 all around and sustained it up until this point-- so my pad kit just sat in my closet taking up $75 worth of space (ouch) in the meantime.

"You sure about this, momma?" "Momma, these smell funny"
There was a bit of confusion during the ordering; choosing the size for the dress form, because some people say get it according to how much you want to increase and the box says to get it according to the dress form you currently have... the former sounds more correct to me from the perspective of increasing to get to a certain size. I don't know, but in the end I took my advice from those who've tried it... and it still ended up being the one recommended on the box: I have a size 12 dress form, and I needed to increase below the waist up to a 16-18, so a size medium set of pads is what I purchased.

Let me just state that you need a partner and at least an hour and a half to play around with these pads... because they can so very easily go awry with the wrong measurements and a biased perspective. I learned that I thought my butt sat a little higher and a little bigger than Ophelia's: this was not the case, though I wished it was ahahah! I thought the front of my thighs were a little larger, also turned out not to be true. The only thing that my eyes saw correctly was my stomach pouch, or what I like to call the "fanny pack".

It turned out to be the only pad I needed to place onto Ophelia, fancy that. Seems like a waist of a nice kit (*rim shot*), but if it'll get me the right fit I'm happy. These pads seem generally very handy should I ever have the need to custom fit someone else, so I am not entirely critical on myself for having spent the money on this pad set that I don't think I will ever use in its entirety for myself. Honestly, though... if I didn't see future use besides fitting me alone, I would have just given her the ol' Frankiestein mod job.

Take from my experience what you will, but I say if you've never found a dress form that fit at all right and your fit issues are quite extensive, then this is a great set for you to address it all on any dress form you have-- it even fixes some vertical fit issues like high or low bust line points and dowager's hump for example. For people with average body sizes like myself, that your variations are only inches apart from the form but everything sits relatively in the right places, best just to stick with padding your form up with batting, because it's still accurate but vastly cheaper.

Next items are pattern material and a roll-a-pattern rotary marker.

The usefulness in these is appreciated by those, like myself, who find the idea of cutting into master patterns shuddersome-- if you're cutting at a small(er) size, the larger sizes go to waste. Sure you might've only paid a dollar, maybe even less... eventually there will come a time when you no longer want that pattern and you could pass it on in pristine condition; one day it too will be considered vintage! Not just that though, no one ever stays the same size throughout their lifetime... but a favorite pattern might remain a favorite decades later, so it's nice to be able to accommodate for any changes easier with the range of sizes available on the pattern.

Anywho *steps off soap box*.
I purchased these from Nancy's Notions as a bundle here, and it is about the only place I know that offers a decent amount of pattern material with a handy marker tool for such a great price. Most other places offer the material by the yard/meter or in 25 to 50 yard bolts for exorbitant amounts.

Seems like the kind of thing that should be even cheaper than muslin and even batting, and yet it isn't in most cases for whatever reason. It isn't stronger than muslin, it's more like dryer sheet material though it is still strong enough to endure some pretty rough handling and pinning heaps better than paper tissue in comparison; it is still see through for the purposes of copying a pattern with much less hassle than using a tracing wheel with transfer paper onto muslin. I now use this for my final drafts after I finish all revisions from my master patterns, but will continue to use cheap gift tissue paper during the redraft/redesign process since it would not be nice to waste this material, hehe.

I haven't "officially" used the rotary marker, though it seems like a pretty ingenious little trinket.

I like that they made it refillable, because I would hate for this entire hunk of plastic to be disposable-- though I got the very bottom of the marker bit off and revealed the felted ink well bit inside, so I wonder about the possibility of "filling" it back up with ink when the time comes to replace it.
I have played with it a bit on a pad of paper, and its got a very gentle flow of ink, doesn't need much pressure to get a very crisp black line; I worry that the ink will bleed onto the master pattern with such thin pattern material, which is why I haven't actually used it yet... though that could be because it's still so fresh from the box. That could change as it begins to run/dry out.

Next items are the notions that just didn't make my cut; I tried and tried and they just don't deliver for me.

It looks like three but it's really two and a half.
The bottle of fluid and "pen" is a fabric folding pen by Clover; it claims to do precisely its namesake... fold fabric (without the need of an iron).

I read and reread the instructions, looked at different online video demonstrations but none of it seemed to make this pen and its fluid work, and I wasn't using anything too different from cotton. Maybe my batch of folding fluid is faulty or maybe it's just that it only works on cotton and cotton blends, heh.

Next is another Clover item, which disappoints me because I am typically a fan of anything from Clover. This one is even on Nancy's top 10 notions list! It's the Clover desk needle threader. I have a vintage one I bought from the thrift store oh so many years ago, but it's green and this is purple... and you know me when it comes to purple tools!
Later I find out the brand of the original threader I have still exists in some shops and even comes in purple! Here. Seems like a hefty price to pay for a simple needle threader that I already have, but I live by my 1950's INFILA... it would great to have it in purple, haha!

Unfortunately, this Clover one is more trouble than its color is worth. It doesn't give me a range of needles to thread unlike the INFILA; larger than a size 5 sharp doesn't even fit into the slot. On top of that it only threads oval eyes, which is fairly typical for hand sewing needles, but there are round ones out there and on the off chance I get them I want to be able to thread them quickly too, heh.
I like using Bohin's size 8 sharps for my basting and hand stitching which seems just small enough that it doesn't always catch and thread that needle in a jiffy. The range seems to be between sizes 5 and 7. For how much it costs, it's not worth it at all unless of course you stick strictly to the sizes it can thread, as someone who has a wide range of needles for various purposes it just doesn't cut it... but it's cute nevertheless.

I really did want these to work because I like the idea of them quite a bit and would definitely use them if they worked as advertised and/or had a wider range of use.

Till next time, my ghouls!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Simplicity 8019

Since my last post, I have begun to experience what others have dubbed life.
I am actually living, as any homosapien must do-- it's exhausting and wondrous... and of course expensive, heh.
The life of a hermit has not been entirely for my benefit, though I did live exceptionally comfortable and embedded within my means.

The most exciting though of all the happenings is the joyous and infinitely desired news of all, news of my mother's official remission! I believe we've doused ourselves with a healthy dose of hope after that. We're drenching ourselves in all the relief that is possible for such news, while still having two feet planted on the ground about such matters.

That being said, with some emotional weight off my shoulders, and as little as the year progressed, I have been able to make leaps and bounds with my bat fit goals already, but I wanted to break this little pause I've taken from blogging this time with the one and only sewn project I've done for what is now behind us in the current year.

That's right, I've been up to my ears in things to do that sewing has actually taken a back seat... for now. So sewing productivity may be down, but it is certainly up in other equally important affairs.
What began as a simple visit to the fabric shop to find something for my pattern, literally turned into an opportunity for work-- but before all that, it was the simple gesture of revising my sewing list that was the catalyst to what is now yet another way for me to give back to the shop I now work at all the money I earn from it hahah!

I figured I better adjust what kinds of garments will be on that list, as I estimate by the time I get to finish all of them I might be well enough into the hot and humid summer months that anything for cool weather will be a completely moot point; the hot weather lasts just too long here, and I'd hate not to be able to wear what I finish right then for that length of time. Two of the patterns have been with me since the time I lived in Hellbrook (aka Holbrook, Arizona)-- it's about time I start working from where I started with this now gargantuan collection of commercial patterns!
Anyway, even from my own point of view I sometimes ponder how my brain functions; making a list is a methodical thing to do... and yet, somewhat surprisingly, I didn't start at the beginning of that list.
In a very similar fashion, much of the inner machinations of my creative laboratory work much the same way; I can't begin with a chaotic space, so I first clean every nook and cranny before every project... yet during the process I don't quite mind the torrent of scraps and thread strewn about.

I digress (immensely). I started with a retro reprint of a button up skirt: Simplicity 8019; originally printed in the 70's, and reprinted sometime in the past year or two. It took a while to get this one done, in fact it wasn't officially "done" until last week! Talk about procrastination; for myself, that is a highly irregular pause between start and finish that wasn't deliberate. I called it done before actually being so, because I had simply but to sew on buttonholes and buttons to call it complete.

At first, a halloween print was crying out to me... but I remembered one of my bat fit goals; to ease up on making everything from Halloween prints and use more "mature" fabrics, as was once the case. I took to the fabric store and found a beautifully (mature) purple and black plaid. I found some nice black buttons that I assumed I would still love by the time I got to that point. This was not the case.

I cut out a size 14 at first which brought me to the realization that I gained weight; so I graded up to a 16-- still not quite enough. Finally, I landed on 18. I wanted it in view C which was a midcalf length, but on me it would look more like D-- I had to go all the way up to A for me to have that mid calf length I wanted, with some of the bottom hem unused for just a touch more length to make it right. Yeesh, I'm short!

During the process of matching my plaids up on my pattern pieces, something stopped clicking with my choice of buttons; I no longer wanted these black with crystal rhinestone ones.
It felt at that moment in time, like a frenzy had overtaken me... and before I knew it, I had purchased dozens of new buttons in an attempt to satiate whatever hunger overtook me.

What inevitably won were little metal skull shank buttons that I failed to properly take a photo of. I guess I wasn't fully over the concept of adding some Halloween flair to my stuff!

I put off sewing on the buttonholes until I was sure which buttons were the "perfect ones", because it was no longer an easy task to pop and sew a buttonhole; I decided to take the plunge and try the contraption I was so afraid of using since its acquisition; my Singer Buttonholer.

I'm not gonna lie, this thing is as scary to work with as it is to look at; I broke four needles just troubleshooting it with the machine, heh... but once the trial and terror part was over, I was able to produce the best buttonhole I have ever witnessed made!

I was a lazy bum and didn't contrast the thread for your guys' sake, and yet clearly there's a huge difference between the top, which was made with my Brother (not unlike many other of its ilk manufactured after the 80's and forward), and the bottom which was produced with the singer and the buttonholer gadget. The only problem I've noticed is that the keyhole templates don't go any smaller than 7/8th's of an inch-- which is the benefit of the sliding buttonhole foot of any everyday machine these days: any size, any time, quick, painless, and sufficient for most needs.
However, I needed something with a little more umph for this project, since the design and weight of the fabric would swallow up the button holes my Brother made.

Back to the pattern, it was very easy to dish out; I sewed two others up as a mock up before I got to making my final garment. No significant adjustments were made-- any width sizing issues I had were simply because I was trying to shortcut my way out of actually having to remeasure myself for all the weight I gained hahah! The vertical length was something I simply wasn't paying attention to when I made the two mock ups before the final one; so really pay attention to that finished length measurement on the packet. I know it seems obvious to mention it, but a lot of people including myself tend to gloss over it, heheh.  Next changes made were simply design changes,  I extended the grain line markings so it would be easier to match my plaid, and to create a directional focal of the waistband.

You'll have to excuse the wrinkling-- another momentary lapse in foresight. This was moments after a cat nap after work in my clothes and on my way to class! Heh.

The top button looks so misshapenly sewn in this photo, and yet this was the best shot I got of the buttons... still hard to see them. Boo! I wish I still had a functioning camera, instead of my phone. Seems like the kind of thing I should invest in.

Till next time, my lovely ghouls!

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