Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Best Laid Plans-- When Love Isn't Enough.

You all know I love sewing; it's my passion, it's my hobby, it's basically a synonym for me.

It's with that in mind that I tell you this, not every time I sew means I'm happy. Sometimes, I am so miserable but I do it because I must... much like some sharks must keep moving in order to live; sewing is my soul's primary life source... even if at times like with this project, I resent the necessity.

So, back in late June I began this escapade (or rather lesson in patience); I was happily working on a pair of velvet overalls and it was while I was digging through my stash room for certain notions needed, that I was suddenly and irrevocably struck by an intense urge to use this spiderweb cotton material I had purchased during my time working for Hancock's Fabric... which inevitably got me digging through my pattern stash.

This hard diversion of my plans landed me on McCall's 6503:



I remember picking this pattern up a couple years ago and thinking I was going to sew view C; I began a muslin and had everything lined up and ready to go for it, I just didn't have a fabric choice to marry the dress to and so it was stamped with a big UFO label. It would have been C too, but my mind changed course once more, as it tends to do, and I found myself utterly smitten over view A.
Ironically, view A was my least favorite view when I had initially purchased this pattern.


I was still feeling the web lace vibes from my last dress, even though before this dress I wasn't working with it at all. I overlaid the collar and belt portions with a layer of lace that admittedly made them very bulky, and I was worried I would have issues later since I did use interfacing also.
Yet I continued...

As much as my gut was telling me not to use the interfacing, I was worried it would not be crisp enough to maintain the shape after laundering. I opted to compromise and use a featherweight interfacing. However, going through my stash of interfacings, I quickly realized I had nothing but scraps of featherweight left.

Instead of seeing this as a red flag, my stubborn ass franken-stitched the pieces together.


My heart was telling me I solved the problem, while my brain was in overdrive panic mode because although they were technically symmetrical... aesthetically, they weren't. My brain was yelling at me profanities and the myriad of reasons what could go wrong in the garment.
Yet I continued...

The interfacing and lace in, the bodice was actually going as planned. This pattern had an insane amount of ease in it that I drafted out during the mock up-- all in all I think I removed an entire 1/4 yard of material from this dress.

So came the lower portion, I sprung a creative leak and motivation was gushing out of me. I couldn't decide whether or not I should continue with a lace overlay on top of a solid or over top of the print.
It sat on my form, just as it was above, for days.

I was helplessly watching unable to continue my life, sometimes starring at this dress for hours while I sat in my chair with Netflix going on in the background, trying to fall back in love with it. I couldn't even work on those overalls or things I had promised to make others... I just sat there obsessively trying and failing to be enamored.


It wasn't until last week that my brain finally kicked back on, and I became decisive once more. I think part of that can be attributed to a recent commitment to my well-being that managed to get this brain train going again. I said fuck it to the solid and the lace and went a more simpler route, going completely with the print AND I even went so far as to redesign the skirt into a hi-lo hem.

Sadly I was reminded again that this dress is cursed. I was two steps from being completed, and just as suddenly as before, things went awry. Instead of a lapped zipper, I wanted an invisible zipper. I put it in, and off the dress form and off myself it got a little hung up at the waist but still went up. Now bare in mind, it was during this time when mother nature paid her visit and I was incredibly bloated and irritable... logic and reason fly out of the window with the tiniest provocation when I get it this bad.

I tried on the dress despite my better judgement, and it just didn't want any of this hot mess. It barely zipped up, let alone come together at my waist where the bulk of my bloating was highest. I struggled with this zipper for hours on end, so close to tears of frustration when I got a call from my SO, who at the time was away on business.


He barely helped, I'm sad to report. I got angrier and angrier as he spoke, but I did manage to sift and process a grain of reality from what he said and that was the fact that when my bloating gets bad, nothing will ever fit.
Meanwhile, I tugged and pulled and squeezed that zipper so fervently, I managed to give my forefinger and thumb blisters. Actual painful blisters: puffy, angry and filled with fluid... like me.

I sat in my room, feeling completely defeated and sweaty after wrestling the zipper. I grabbed a bag of almond kisses and streamed the most disgustingly cute Korean drama I could find and binged that shit during the following days.
While I sat watching the last few episodes, it dawned on me, that bloody bulk on the waist I was worried about earlier? That was what the zipper must be getting hung up on, it had to be. I grabbed my scalpel style stitch remover and very carefully removed the inner most line of stitching and moved it over the tiniest mm's to the side. I also tacked down the remaining flap of adjacent bulk down to help ease the runner a little more too.


After completing these minor fixes, and going back in to readjust the armholes because they puckered oddly, there I was in front of the mirror again, ready for round two. I put the dress on, grit my teeth and prayed... the first portion went up smoothly, and there was a certain satisfaction in feeling that graceful zip, but then it momentarily hung up at the waist again. I cursed, and buckled down for yet another struggle... but a little tug and all the way up it went. I was speechless, the bulk was the problem, and I solved it. I startled my cats when I exclaimed 'fuck yeah' with intense glee.



Pattern Overview:
  • With a combination of major and minor tweaks and adjustments, this pattern can look as intended by the envelope line work.
  • Adjustments will be primarily done on the bodice front piece, as it carries an excess of ease due to the gathered feature.
  • The armholes for the sleeveless variations do not come with a piece for a facing, and instead bias tape is suggested for use en lieu. I used bias tape and there were puckering issues since I opted to hand stitch it in as opposed to having an exposed top stitch on the exterior. Adjustments must be made for this course of action, and my solution was barbaric but resulted in a pleasant looking armhole-- simply chop the excess ease at the top where I deducted was the ailing source of the tugging. and gradually narrow down. If I had to make this again, I would draft a suitable facing to make things easier.
  • The envelope reads easy, meaning good for beginners. I would heavily debate to the contrary. However, the instructions were clear and concise.
Additional Comments on Pattern: 
I have a hunch that some of the problems with this pattern might be solved by simply having a lining. I can't confirm that, though, because it is unlikely I will use this pattern again any time soon.

--------------------

Looking back, I can't believe how much I struggled with this dress in every aspect of it-- from the beginning to the end, it was quite a journey that I won't soon forget. So much for it being labeled "easy", hah! Perhaps I should dump this post under my Trials & Tribulations!

Till next time, fiends.
Spook you later!



******
Necklace: handmade by yours truly
Spider brooch: gift from my youngest brother
Shoes: flea market buy
Fascinator: upcycled by yours truly

Monday, July 31, 2017

Spooky Basket: A Return To Tradition-- The Black Lip

The staple of every traditional goth: black lips.

Even in my  teenage years far removed from the heyday of the traditional goth scene, I remember a time when black lipstick was impossible to find outside of Hallowe'en. Plus the formulas were still gross, and patchy or way too glossy and cheap. And the lip liner to go with it? Forget about it. Black eye pencil it was. For everything.

The makeup world, and consequently the drugstore makeup world, has changed. It's become so much more accessible for the average Jane & Joe.
If makeup is your thing and where you choose to spend your hobby money, the options are limitless.
If you're like me and you spend your hobby money elsewhere, but you'd still rather do it right if you're going to do it at all... well, drugstores have up'd their game enough to give us a (limited in comparison) range, but much much more than it once was. Sometimes offering "dupes" for the high end goodies.

Black is still tough to find within this budgetary spectrum, but not impossible anymore. In the past 5 months I have been trying 3 types from 3 brands, with the most expensive being $5.99


The products:
  1. NYX Liquid Suede $5.99
  2. L.A. Girl Matte Flat Velvet Lipstick $2.99
  3. E.L.F. Moisturizing Lipstick (satin finish) $3.00





NYX Liquid Suede (color: alien):

Things I like:

Up until recently Nyx was being carried almost exclusively by Ulta (where I bought these colors) which is a makeup store, but not so high end like Sephora and above. Now it's popping up in Walgreens, and I did see my colors available.
Liquid matte lipsticks are kind of my thing right now, so with this I am fairly biased in saying this is my favorite of the three. 
They pack the greatest opacity and wear longevity. It doesn't bleed or spider at all, and you get the cleanest edges on your lips with minimal effort.
I own two more colors in this line (Brooklyn Thorn and Amethyst) and the color payoff is phenomenal.
Nyx also offers their matching lip liners, which is a huge bonus.
The applicator is a flat doe foot wand, and probably my favorite type of liquid lip applicator foot. I find it easier to control where I am applying the color, as opposed to other types.


Things I don't like:

This goes for all liquid lips as a downside: if you don't take care of your lips regularly (i.e. use balm everyday, scrubs every other day) these are going to exacerbate all the issues you have with your lips.
Nyx isn't cruelty free, that would be my biggest criticism. 
Secondly, compared to their Lip Lingerie collection (I own the color cashmere silk), their Liquid Suede stays very slightly tacky throughout the day, and I think it's for this reason that unlike other liquid lip colors from other brands, these aren't as long wearing. They all come off when I drink or eat; Nyx liquid lippies are the least lasting of my liquid lippy collection. But this still out lasts the other two in this bunch.
The matching lip liners, although convenient to have the option for them, they cost the same as their counterparts-- seems like a lot for a lip pencil. It is because of this that I own only the Brooklyn Thorn pencil, as it is the most unique and hard to dupe color in a cheap waxy eye pencil.
The color isn't a true black, it has the most subtle color duality... like the exoskeleton of an Xenomorph! It's really cool, and I do love it but it's not the blackest black...


E.L.F. Moisturizing Lipstick (color: Black Out)

Things I like:

I love e.l.f.-- it along with Hard Candy and Wet & Wild are my favorite cruelty free affordable brands.
This smells of candy corn! Cliche but I love it so. Apparently they only recently released it in their permanent line-- like last year recently. The formula is rich and creamy, it's quite smooth throughout the day. This is the truest black of all three, with a luxurious looking satin finish. It's almost as pigmented at the liquid lippy, it takes little effort to get the color payoff you want. The shape is typical of lipsticks with a tapered end, there's not much to say about that except that it seems rare among very inexpensive lipsticks... not sure why as it's the most intuitive shape for applying color to lips straight from the tube. This comes very close to being my favorite behind the Nyx.



Things I don't like:

It being a regular lipstick, it has its inevitable problems-- your hair gets stuck on your lips and when the wind drags it along your face it creates streaks of color on your cheeks and even forehead. Sometimes the color gets transferred onto your teeth. This formula bleeds very badly, and e.l.f. does not offer a matching lip pencil**. It needs a little bit of a base coloring with a pencil because the tiniest amount of color cracking occurs.
This color was a little hard to track down, it is not carried in any of the Walmart's I visited, and have only seen it at Super Target's.


 L.A. Girl Matte Flat Velvet Lipstick (color: Raven)

Things I like:

L.A. Girl is a recent discovery for me, it's not easy to locate-- I found it in this little shop called Twinkle World on a strip mall near my house. It's a pretty true matte lipstick. It's cruelty free, and I remember seeing the matching lip liner but decided to forgo it (I don't know why, because it was only $1 or $2-- I will be going back to get it). It's the cheapest of my three. It doesn't bleed badly, and doesn't transfer to my teeth unlike other lipsticks. This brand offers an amazing selection of lip colors, and this color is a fairly true black. This brand also offers a liquid lipstick and matte lipstick remover that I also want to try, I wish they offered Raven in their liquid line, but they have a very dark vampy purple I am itching to get my hands on. 


Things I don't like:

With it being a true matte lipstick, it comes with the obvious problems of a true matte lipstick. It's on the waxy side so it tugs a little, although the finish looks lovely it takes some effort in getting a clean finish. The pigmentation isn't the greatest, but I find this is a common problem with any matte lipstick. When you stretch out your lips, in a large grin or a grimace, if you haven't created a base with lip liner, there will be big gaps and cracks where the lip color didn't reach.



It has a flat round shape of the lipstick itself; if you're applying right from the tube, this makes application very counter intuitive. This was my least favorite of the three; it reminded me a little too much of the cheapo stuff from the past. I won't be buying their black again, but their nudes look very promising as well as their liquids.


----------------------------

** e.l.f. does make a lip lock pencil, which is a clear lip liner for all unusual colors.
I use it along with L.A. Colors Auto eye pencil for all my black lippy needs. None of the pictures or swatches used either product, just so I could ensure an unbiased view of each of their performances.


Old habits are hard to kill especially when it comes to black lips, and this L.A. Colors pencil is bad as an eyeliner because of its very waxy consistency, but it's precisely that which makes it a great lip pencil. A double plus is L.A. Colors is cruelty free and bought at Dollar Tree.

There you have it, my fiends. I hope this post ensures more black lips in your lives, as hell knows we need it.

Spook you later!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: This Is Unexpected... and Things of That Nature.

It's that time again!
Where I, your creepy crafty hostess, have some time to update you guys on what's happening with life and other sundries...

My media outlets have been as quiet as this blog, for I have been up to my gills in things to do, things to plan, and things to ponder... and most importantly, attempt to carve out some time to breathe and maybe relax in between. But not really.

Let's move the big parts out of the way, shall we? Here we go: 
I'm 90 to 95 percent sure I'm moving to Washington state... Yup. It's quite a damn move. 
From Texas to Washington, we're looking at some serious changes here.
We have verbally accepted the offer (hence the 90 to 95%), but have not signed any official documents as of today (hence the 90 to 95%...). Though they tell us the papers are coming, we are fully aware of the fact that things can still go wrong... *flashbacks of Arizona what-might-have-beens*

There is a lot to be excited about for this move, the most overt aspect will be that it will land me very close to the Canadian border which means road trips home will be a definite and frequent thing! Woo hoo!

That said, there is also a lot to be concerned with... the cost of living increase is enough to spook this gal into an early grave. Not sure how we'll do as this job isn't a pay increase, just a lateral, and rent over there is nearly double of what it is here for what we have, which isn't to say it's enough to hold all our cherished belongings.

I have been finding it a little tough to get employed after the briefest stint at Hancock's Fabrics before it went under (RIP, one year now); on paper I am aggressively mediocre and I'm a terrible interviewee due to my awful social skills.
My work experience is a hodge podge of spurt and sparsity with large gaping time voids I try to fill with my unsubstantial volunteering fluff; whatever appeal I may have is completely diminished by my lack of education. GED holder and self-taught jack of all trades is not quite as competitive/marketable as it may sound... or look, no matter how technical and creative my language is: cue image of Bobby Boucher describing his position as the team's water distribution engineer.

So one thing I have turned to (again) is perhaps lay a little focus (again) on selling what I make (again...). I know what you're thinking: 'wow, many treats, much excite, such wait'
But those ugly little thoughts keep creeping all over my brain like annoying gooey tendrils that suffocate the flame of my excitement. Fret not, though, it's happening... it's just despairingly slow as I try to work through my anxieties and self depreciation...
I have been having major second thoughts about the name I have chosen for my shop; The Serpent and The Thimble, although cool and adorbs, does not covey the full scope of my handcraftables. I am so much more than my sewing and stitchery! I paint/draw, I sculpt, I knit and hell I even make bath and self care products! So the 'thimble' part of the name kind of shoves me into a corner, although admittedly the majority of my wares and excitement stem from sewing, I just don't want to be known strictly for my sewing-- I am a jack o' lantern of all trades, after all. It's what I pride myself... for the most part, hehe.
It is with all this in mind I have been back to brewing some suitable replacements.

On the blog front, Photobucket has pulled a sudden but inevitable betrayal. I was first aware of it from a posting by MindLess Indulgence, but I'm sure by now many people are fully conscious of the plight of years of photos becoming unavailable on their blogs. I haven't as of yet gone back to replace those photos, and I'm thinking for the most part I will just cull my posts as opposed to bother with trying to replace every dang photo. It's a lot of work, and I really don't like the thought of tackling that gargantuan rehab.
I could wipe the slate clean... that is an option, I guess. Bah, curse you Photobucket.

Creatively, I have been sewing but what I am most excited about is going back to exploring watercolors and gouache. I have been revisiting an idea I started a few years back (unfortunately, Photobucket swallowed that post whole so no throwback links for now) of a series of artworks I now dub the "Spooky Sewing Room" inspired by my love of Halloween and sewing. I have only teased one of the pieces on IG which I will now display here in all its watermarked glory (sorry about that, but it's necessary):

Will go back and tweak this to add my signature batty emery attachment.


I've been looking into getting some quality prints done to make them available to my shop, but my google-fu is as weak as my job landing skills. It's not looking so economical, and I'm not particularly known enough to garner the interest in the series needed to balance the cost.
We'll see how this endeavor pans out. For now, it's a source of personal happiness... much like everything else I do, heheh.

And so for now, I leave you all with spooky salutations-- till next time, my fiends.

Spook ya later!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: The Franken-Pattern Dress.

It was on a dreary night of June that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. 
With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of fabulousness into the pile of fabric that lay at my feet...

Clearly, I've been spending a lot of time with the tales and films of Frankenstein and his monster.
Forever my favorite story and "monster"-- the one I so closely identify with and obsesses over.



My latest, though not the only project finished, is my favorite creation to date. It has been an idea that has rattled in the back of my head for years, and it was Mary's contribution (from Autumn Moon Enchantement --how awesome that her name ties well with the theme of this post) that pounded the last nail in that coffin. She traded me this Pumpkinheads fabric from Michael Miller; I didn't know such amazing material existed, and it was all too perfect for this dress, I begged her for her scraps and she kindly obliged me haha!

Initially the plan was to make a full dress with some kind of pumpkin material, and the amount that Mary sent me wouldn't have been enough... but as it turned out, it was destiny that brought my creation together.


So, in the beginning of June a sewing with lace contest was announced for Sewing Pattern Review Online Sewing Community. I love lace, but ironically it's a material I am rather short on at any given time. Good lace is tough to stash... but I really wanted to enter and give it a shot, and all I really have is novelty laces-- this spiderweb lace meeting the criteria as best as my muse could muster. It needed to be a project I could quickly finish, given that I would be losing two weeks on account of my in-laws coming for a visit, rendering my room unreachable for the time being: one week to make the room "livable" and one week for them to reside in.


Funny enough, I wasn't even sure what I was going to do or what fabric I was going to use. After a day of pulling fabrics and patterns, it hit me like a bolt of lightning-- I should make the dress I have been wanting to make! It took a little franken-patterning to reach the design that I so dreamed about: the skirt from Simplicity 1194 and the bodice and midriff of New Look 6146 (ironically one of those 'mix & match' patterns).
 One aspect that I had to figure out on my own was the bat wing collar.


I am no stranger to the bat wing collar (throwback to my bat dress), but I must admit that I wasn't entirely sure how this would turn out in faux leather; it's considerably more bulky.
I opted to do one side in the faux leather and the other in cotton, to alleviate the amount of bulk. It worked beautifully.


The skirt used up 4 yards of my spiderweb lace; it's double layered. It was a touch too long, and from the ensuing fabric I made the sash, which looks to be part of the dress.


But it isn't. 
I did this purposely, since I love using waist belts... and some of my own design will be starting to see the light of day soon enough.

I am still not sure this would meet the criteria for the lace contest, though it says the garment must be 75% lace and this uses 4 yards of "lace" including an accessory against a quarter yard of cotton and a bit of faux leather... seems to me like it should, but we shall see. In any case, I do know it meets it for another contest, a little IG contest for a Halloween box. A Halloween spirit contest hosted by Order of the Thinned Veil-- I really dig this particular contest. Even if I don't win it, I shall endeavor to purchase their All Hallows level. Seems kick-ass.

Lastly, I have to say that I am completely obsessed right now with hemming my skirts with ribbon. I can't stop doing it, haha! I did it as an afterthought though, as you can tell from these subsequent shots of me wearing this dress without that hem.



Hmm, I don't know... should I keep or remove the ribbon hem?
Till next time, fiends. Spook you later!

-------------
Bat knit hood knit by yours truly.
Ribcage necklace handmade by yours truly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Bloody Potential.

It's been a mayhem infused May for this gal.
Frankly I'm surprised I'm still here to continue my sarcastic tirade on life.

But here I am! Still stitchin' along, but also still pondering 'Y, tho' in true nihilistic manner.

Here I am, on the doorstep to 29-- just a little over a month from now-- and the only thing I can think of is 'sexual peak'. I think I read somewhere that 30 is the 20 for women's libido. It just may be, because I would never in my teens or early 20's ever would I have sewn, let alone worn, a crop top, and yet this is my second iteration of one.


Like a champ, I made Simplicity 8386 in between a little slew of projects on my chopping block-- I think if my plans ever went along in a neat little line, hell might serve orange smoothies and tacos.

But let's talk about this pattern cover for a minute-- how utterly boring can a pattern look? Dear Simplicity cover designers, wtf mates?!
Thank the gods I can see past a bland-looking pattern, and see its beautiful potential... but let me tell ya, I had a hard time not overlooking this pattern. I think I put it back 3 times before I remembered I had a sh*t ton of knit materials these may look good with.

I landed on this beautiful textured knit material which I have 8 yards of, and bloody hell I can't remember where I bought it haha. Must have been a big sale for me to buy this amount of it.
I dug it up trying to look for another knit material for another project-- felt just like a new discovery! What a feelin'.

I cut out view C in size 12-- it has a whopping two pattern pieces in total. This is about as easy as a project can get, and it suited the need to procrastinate while still satiating a misguided desire for productivity in a life of chaos. There wasn't much to it, but in case you needed it the instructions were crystal clear.



I'm a sucker for proper pressing in order to get the most out of garment appearance, even when it comes to using knit fabrics.
Pro tip: a tailor's clapper is your friend for pressing these kinds of tenacious knits. You get a nice fold, without the risk of your knits falling back into its previous drape or accidentally overheating your material in an attempt to use the iron's weight to press the seam under a press cloth-- which for specialty knits can be a real danger.

Instead of using packaged binding for this top, that the pattern calls for, I made some binding from a few strips of the material-- so I could retain the natural stretch of the material and for it to also match nicely.


I tried experimenting with the neckline by using a binded casing, instead of using the method they use in the pattern instructions; I ended up hating what I did and painstakingly removed all the woolly nylon overlocked stitches I did. I reverted back to their method, it turned out to be the best for reduced bulk; I carefully hand-stitched the casing closed, as I liked the idea of an invisible seam there.




I finished this in just a mere couple hours, sufficed to say in good timing. I wasn't feeling great about my body; bloated, blemished like the pox, grumpy, nauseous, and hair that was so kinked and frazzled a bird mistook it for a nest. All courtesy of mother nature and her visit that went unimpeded by birth control. I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to get off of it, but in a bid to figure out my reluctant health... well, desperation is never a pretty color to paint with.

All's well that ends well, though-- I'm about the end of her visit this month and my body is going back to relative normality... whatever that really is, all things considering.


I had further design plans for this top, like adding more texturing to the surface through meticulously designed stitches... but alas, as a rather unlucky sewist, I broke the key needle player in that game before I even begun to chuckle towards completion.
It'll just have to wait, because at $3 for one needle... I'm in no rush to get it out of my drawing board yet, heh.
By itself, it makes a great goth summer staple article; simple, buildable, sweet... and that seems like enough.


Till next time, fiends-- spook ya later!

What are your sewing or crafting plans for the summer heat?


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Ghost With The Most.

What do we got 'ere tonight, kids?


I'm on a roll, my fiends, sewing like tomorrow the bells will toll. Better yet, all these projects are made using fabric from the stash, and not just any stash... the good stash. The stash I didn't think I would ever cut into. So bold, so ambitious... so freaking scary.

I would be remiss if I didn't say I have (had?) ulterior motives to getting back into sewing so voraciously. Contests; contests are very good motivators. McCall's Pattern Company has such a contest of interest, for the construction of M7542.


The prizes are $100 gift certificate to Vogue Fabrics plus a 1 year sub to their fabric catalog, and $100 worth of McCall's patterns. I was so excited for those prizes, but the ironic thing was this was a pattern I actually passed on during a pattern haul (doh!).

Luckily I have have a really awesome friend here in San Antone who didn't mind buying the pattern after telling him I've been having withdrawals and wished I didn't pass it up so I could participate; I haven't bought fabric in a few months, partly because we have been heavily cutting down on the outgoing cashflow, but mostly because I made a very substantial bet with my significant other that if I managed to make it to October without purchasing fabric, I would get a "within reason" fabric/hallowe'en shopping spree in return.

Anyway, so I found this rayon challis at Walmart, and in a black and white stripe print some odd years ago now when I lived in Arizona (?)-- such an odd almost out of place good quality too that I ended up buying the rest of the bolt at the time. When I find fabric this good, I tend to get very greedy and buy entire bolts; bad for the wallet, but hella satisfying.


There isn't much to say about the actual pattern itself. I cut out a 12 and extended the back opening about an 1 1/2" down from the original ending point-- partly because I couldn't get my head through in the mock up, and partly to have a subtle skin reveal as I moved. Other than that, it fit as it should-- not too tight, not too loosely. It's semi-loose fitting with bust and shoulder darts for the tiniest bit of form fit. There was an excess of ease on the upper sleeve pattern piece, but nothing you can't just chop off after you've set it in with a baste stitch; I know, I'm a filthy savage.

The hook and eye is meh, it catches my knotty hair every time I take it on and off.
I would've added a loop closure with a fancy button if I didn't mess up that plan by serging the facing on before sammiching a loop between that and the outer fabric.
The hemline sits a touch higher than what's typical, ending right at the high hip point-- I didn't know I would like this cut as much I as do, it's flirtatious!

Sample dress #1, WIP
I used an applique bib that initially I was going to use in a dress I was designing around a dual sided lace fabric that was purchased for me from the same friend. There's a little regret in doing so, the material and the bib went so well together but when I get to designing without a clue as to what I want... I didn't know if it would ever see a use... individually, they are quite pretty.


There is one good thing that came from my indecisiveness, I mean, other than using it in this top... I started drawing croquis again . So there's that. This hasn't been a usual practice for me for the past 4 to 5 years, mostly because I now sew and design as lark rather than as a meticulous planned endeavor. Keeps things fresh and satisfying, I lose steam as quickly as I gain it anymore these days... but it feels good to be going back to my roots.


Back to the blouse, the bib didn't seem like enough and I struggled with the idea of adding more embellishments to, well... an embellishment. I landed on the idea of spikes, however, this being a rayon challis and a mesh bib, it would not stand the weight of conventional metal spikes or studs; it would sag rather unflatteringly. I remembered Hobby Lobby had some acrylic sew-on spikes with a chrome finish that turned out to be perfect.

A little dab of well placed fabric glue on the bottom of each spike and placed in their appropriate spots ensured I would get the perfect sew-down every time.

A beetle pendant makes my 'Beetlejuice chic' work properly.
I alternated the way I cut the upper and lower sleeve portions, because it can't be Beetlejuice inspired if the stripes weren't horizontal on the sleeves... but the pleats I don't think would have had the impact they do if I continued the horizontal pattern.
I guess it is worth noting that the sleeves are the hardest part of this blouse. I don't like how they have you close up the upper portion and hopefully you've accurately transferred your markings that you may or may not have drawn on the wrong side of the material; if like me, you did the latter, you might run into a little hitch because those pieces are meant to fold up and close as a kind of self-lining feature, I guess.


Because I didn't want to mess with reopening the lower portion and potentially marring such a large piece of rayon in the process, I just picked out the small seams of the upper sleeve portion and marked out the seam allowance so I could pleat along the flat length and hope for the best haha! It took a couple tries, pinning and unpinning, but inevitably I persisted into a successful even fit.

With the temps getting warmer and warmer now, I feel great that I have a top to head on the incoming weather. My latest wardrobe purge left me without many good summery tops as I've come to realize; thankfully I sew and have no shortage of things to sew... as I haven't been much in the mood for clothing shopping in a while now.

I actually think I will attempt to sew another one of these, in a different style of sleeve offered-- I'm just in love with this pattern. I fail to understand why I nearly passed on this pattern; don't be like me in this regard, my spooky friends. Get the pattern, you'll love it too!

Spooky you later, fiends! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: The Hat Atop My Batty Head

Well folks, here I am again.

It occurred to me while writing a reply in my previous post that the pillbox hat kind of deserved more than a little footnote to the work spent on the final look for my gothy Easter ensemble.


Ok, so the process of making the pillbox hat was slightly more than what I initially made it seem like. Yes, the pillbox shape was easy to draft; it is just a circle and a band that matches the diameter.
However, there were certain and important factors that I considered heavily before construction on this "little" project.


First, I was going to use cardboard... but throwing back to the coffin purse I made for myself (here's a completed view) a few years back, as wonderful as it was the cardboard I used for the front and back pieces inevitably collapsed. Cardboard is intrinsically temporary-- lesson firmly reiterated. As an aside, this purse still outlasted any store bought purse I own; every month it feels like I'm patching up anything from Kreepsville.

Sorry not sorry if you love Kreepsville. Small rant over.

Anyway, buckram is what any milliner would recommend... though I am not a real milliner (I'd like to think I'm still capable, though) so it's not like I had the best on hand, but I am a sewist which does afford me better substitutes than mere cardboard.

I used notions in my stash that were otherwise much more niche than other items, like my 72F Peltex ultra firm double sided fusible interfacing by Pellon, which is what I used as the foundation-- I reserved this primarily for the bottom of bags, but served no other purpose to me... until I discovered it made a great foundation for my fascinators.


Fused the stiffened material to the peltex, 
and cut it out with pinking shears to prevent fraying.
 This peltex is firm, but not buckram firm. I grabbed some of those pesky muslin scraps and first tried to starch them using Mary Ellen's Best Press; ordinarily I swear by this stuff for making the knifiest of knife pleats, or crispest of the crispest folds and hems... but as a solid, almost crusty (probably not the best description) starch, I found it did not meet my expectations.

While checking out at the craft shop where I would normally breeze past the impulse buy shelves, I caught a glance of Aleene's Stiffen-quik and decided to give it a whirl. It turned out not to be a half bad impulse buy hahah. So now we were buckram stiff.


Well, first iterations were not keeping their shape as nicely as one hoped, and after doing some research found out that buckram although stiff, still also needs stabilizers which come in the form and recommendation of milliner's wire or hat wire. I've never personally come into contact with milliner's wire, but from the looks of it, it looked a hell of a lot like thread covered wire-- seemed to me that stem wire would make a great substitute.

The only problem was that stem wire did not seem to come in spools where I tried shopping for it, but rather... well... stems of 18 inches, heh. I had to use two pieces overlapping of this wire on both the top and bottom of this hat in order to cover the diameter.

Next, and I don't know how viable long term these are but, I used a light coating of fabric basting spray to adhere the first top portion of the hat to prevent bubbling of the material while I stitched it down to the sides. I feel it worked wonderfully and is as tight as a snare drum.

I did not use the spray for the side however because I needed to make a very small and invisible stitch and sprays do gum up fine needles, regardless of their no-gumming claims; so I used a fusible tape, because I have never had a needle gum up with them yet. I think a fusible sticky tape may have been better, but I didn't own any nor did I think of it till later to buy it. But the normal fusible tape also worked very well, with a little dexterity.

I also used copious amounts of Fray-Check on my fashion fabrics, because not one piece ever saw the plate of my machines-- I didn't want to risk too much warping and tugging of the material.



When I got the top and band on, it came time for the best part of any project-- decorating and embellishing!
As with the embellishments on the dress, I made many little fabric yoyos using clover's templates.

I have a bunch of tins with random beads I cut off from old garments and projects lying about with the explicit purpose of doing something like this-- reusing them-- the very beads I used to top the yoyos on my dress. I also took some fabric glue and rhinestones and meticulously laid out my quasi-random splay. It's not so easy to make random look so undeliberate.


I think the most challenging predicament, at least for someone who is an amateur milliner at best was lining the damn thing. In all my books and all my searches, there were barely mentions of how to line a pillbox hat. I went instead to look at actual photos of vintage pillbox hats to see if I could solve the mystery through my visual deduction. Indeed, it very much helped-- it was so simple it hurt and the answer was literally right in front of me.

In the same way you make a fabric yoyo, this beautiful lining is made by taking a piece of lining cut from the band pattern piece and basting a long stitch along one side and then pulling it tight-- it will naturally collapse into a circle, very similar to the fabric yoyo. I then put some permanent fabric glue along the inner edge and dabbed the center and placed this lining piece in. BINGO mutha-heller!

Later I did discover someone mentioning this technique-- I am quite proud that I arrived at it organically, though.

Next was figuring out how to mask the raw edges of the lining-- I thought about glue and some bias tape, but that sounded awful messy and unprofessional looking. Glue is always visible on a band with no movement, folks... especially on premade bias tapes.

I dug through more of my niche notions and uncovered iron-on hem tape. It must have been an impulse buy for I don't remember what in the hell I would ever use iron hem tape on; this stuff is buckram firm too, and at that point why not just use horsehair... it's much easier to mask on a garment than this stuff...













Odd that I had it, but fairly serendipitous in the end. It looks pretty great, and works pretty great! I stitched round elastic onto it before fusing it and thus completing my hat.

The irony to all this is that it is probably cheaper on paper to buy buckram and hat wire than all the items I used to make these seem more like buckram and hat wire, hahah... it's just that I had these (except the stiffen-quik) on hand and not the others that guided my hand.

On a final note, I'd like to mention that flicking this hat is very satisfying because it is very stiff and taut; the sound it makes is so professional...

That's not weird at all. Some people flick vegetables for their sound...

Do you like hats? What kind of hats are your favorite?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Twas The Night Before Easter...

And all through the cave, the creatures were stirring especially... me!

I'm not very good at story telling.
Nor with keeping blogs updated on a regular basis. Luckily, Goth Gardener has given me just the right motivation to get back into the swing once more. She began hosting this contest/competition for a most wonderful looking basket of gothy Easter treats... and truth be told, I am cutting that rather damn close, by literally a night. The rules: write about your perfect gothy Easter, or what you would put in a gothy Easter basket, or even yet, write a gothy Easter spooky tale.

I was going to write about my perfect gothy Easter... but I thought long and hard, and being a mountain home shy of a hermit, I found that rather difficult to come up with. My perfect Easter would be a day spent home-- much like any holiday sans Halloween; and much like any other holiday, I attempt to inject as much Halloween cheer into aspects of it.

Easter egg decorating would consist primarily of ghoulish visions and jack o'lantern grins. Probably a lot of jump scares during the hunting of them...

These don't seem like original thoughts for a goth Easter. Nor are they particularly goth so much as they are Halloweeny...

So, I decided to stick to what I do best: sew!
I had this one on the back burner for a little while if you've been following my instagram, admittedly... but I finally got around to completing it and you know what, this entire ensemble would make a great Easter Sunday Best-- for a goth!



Meet my version of New Look 6670 plus a matching hat!
What a hassle it was to construct, but I'm so glad it's finally done.
It's a two piece dress; the base dress which is a princess seam style sheath silhouette, and the over-skirt/belt. With the scraps I constructed a matching pillbox hat


I think my favorite part of this ensemble is the over-skirt; it's a good piece to carry over into other outfits!

Now for the technical talk-- you can skip over this part if you don't care about the pattern construction info:

I chose view C and over skirt E. The shorter slightly less formal view than the others.

So my main issue was the zipper, hands down the worst location for an open back dress, not to mention for a lapped zipper. At least for one with some swayback issues, such as myself. It was designed with this zipper dead center of the back. Blech. I sewed up the entire back, and attached the zipper in an invisible style to the side under arm.
The finished dress could look much better, but truth be told, I just wanted to be done with it-- seemed like an unlucky dress. Not only were new fit issues popping up during mock ups every time I adjusted one part of it, but my machines just didn't cooperate with my material choice, which is a shantung sateen; no matter how many times I switched needles, cleaned it out or what have you. The dress sews up easily enough, and the instructions get a little vague in parts, but I'd assume you would tackle this if you have some sewing experience... so it's not vague enough to throw an intermediate sewist off.



My bust size is significantly smaller than the size I needed to fit my waist and hips. I tried to fit at the bust and work my way out, but it made so many issues being princess seams and all. I had to constantly readjust the back portion of the strap to prevent the gaping, but as it would appear, it was not completely resolved. I wasn't fully able to tailor this successfully, it was this dress that made me realize that I have shrunk down enough that tailoring on my dress form is no longer viable. I think that was the main problem why I was so unsuccessful in getting this "right".

So, like I mentioned, I used a black sateen shantung with recycled embellishments salvaged from past garments. The material itself was a large remnant piece sold to me in one big piece because I worked the cutting table at Hancocks, and because special privileges and whatnot (hah!). It had minor tears and tape adhesive stains throughout, but I managed to fussy cut my way into this dress. Not feeling great about the massive amounts of scraps, I bought some fabric yoyo makers from clove and started cutting out a bunch of yoyos to use as embellishments on the dress, but I decided against it since the lace I was going to use for the over-skirt belt (also purchased from Hancocks) was rather fussy to begin with. So in came the idea to make a pillbox hat. I drafted the rather easy pattern myself and used more of the scraps to make more yoyos and the hat, then proceeded to fill in gaps with black rhinestones that I had because they were damaged goods I was allowed to take while working at Hancocks (RIP).

For sure not my favorite thing I have ever constructed, but probably not the fault of the pattern?.. Egads is it gorgeous, though! Even for its flaws.

End of technical talk.



Like I said, if you were following my instagram (@mari_mortem) you would have likely seen the progress shots of the dress and the hat. If I had an event to attend for Easter, this is exactly what I would have worn, hehe!

So, because I don't know if this submission will meet the criteria of the contest, and we know my story telling abilities leave a lot to be desired... let me leave with a Easter time haiku a la mort:

Pastel gloom be gone
Hallowe'en we miss you so
At least it's raining.

I guess I better stick to my sewing machine, heh...
  • Shoes revamped by yours truly, check out close ups in this link.
  • Gloves from Claire's


Spook ya later, friends!


Monday, January 23, 2017

Tales of Trial and Terror: Bubble, Bubble, Toiles and Troubles.

Mock ups (or toiles, pronounced twalls or twahls) are important when constructing a garment-- whether you're drafting your own pattern or testing the fit of a commercial one, they save you the trouble of screwing up on your main material.


I, among most seamstress', use muslin for these toiles. It's cheaper than most garment materials, it drapes like most garment materials, and most importantly it's blank and some variation of white so that any markings, stitching or glaring fitting errors are completely visible.

The problem is the life of my muslin toiles and its scraps ends when all of my corrections are made and done, which when you think about it... makes muslin seem like a waste of money and precious resources.

I count myself very lucky that I rarely need to make extensive corrections in order to justify the purchase and use of muslin; a little shortening here, a little tightening there... but, like now, there are times I actually need to make sure of the fit... well, the waste can be quite daunting. I hear some people even make up to 4 toiles before their end garment!

One toile results in this much scrap
Some of these people have solutions to their growing muslin collection. These people are smart and crafty with their muslin.
 These say use the final draft as the pattern, they say use it as stuffing or stabilizer or sew-in interfacing. These ideas are great, but they haven't exactly worked for my needs consistently leaving my muslins to take up space for very long intervals of time.

For the life of me I have never found a sustainable use for my muslin mocks; for my garment material scraps I have loads of uses because of the variation in fabric design and color, but muslin... meh... which is why I try to be very deliberate and conscientious about the use of it-- prompting this post.


I thought about dying them, maybe in the hopes of turning it into a garment I could wear... but the lack luster appearance of muslin on the whole doesn't pique my interest enough.
Dying it is still an idea, though.
With the news that many grocers will be transitioning to bagless down here in the South pretty soon, it got me to thinking... maybe I could stitch these dyed scraps together and make reusable totes? Perhaps I could even stamp and paint these in 'ol Hallowe'en fashion... hmm.

What would/do you do with muslin toiles?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...