Monday, September 18, 2017

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: 10 Things I Wish I Knew.

There was a discussion I read that I thought might be a fun topic to think about and write about here; it was a '10 things you wish you knew when you first started sewing'. Being that I am almost completely self taught, it's safe to say I wish I knew a lot of things. Most especially now.

The history of my sewing background is long and a little complicated but to make a long story short: I was sewing on and off since I was 10, mostly hand sewn doll clothes and little repairs to my own clothes. I didn't tackle a wearable garment till I was 14 when my mother bought me my first machine, an Omega. The serger I own was always in my life (it's older than I am-- my parents bought it new), but I never used it until a few months after getting my Omega; I didn't really understand it's full purpose, so how could I even use it effectively? Heh.
When it came to sewing my mother knew only how to hand sew, which she taught me, but after that I was on my own. Consequently, I spent a lot of time at the library, maybe more than I did at my machine... but everything I learned, I still learned the hard way despite those long hours with my nose in a book... surely one can write an essay on the lesson of theoretical vs. practical knowledge using 'teaching yourself to sew from books' as evidence.

So if there were 10 things I could tell myself at the beginning? Well, in no particular order...

1. Keep your measurements up to date and accurate.
Taking proper measurements is time consuming, and making sure to take your time to do it right and do it at least once a month makes it tedious. I still have a hard time making myself do it, but I do know better now. I will on occasion head onto projects willfully ignorant every now and again, heheh. Whereas when I began, many projects were dubiously "successful"-- mostly out of pure luck.
I use this template I created now, popped it in a glass picture frame and use dry erase markers, now I have a no-waste reference sheet always available.

2. Don't skip hand basting 
Once I didn't skip this tedious little task, the quality in my sewing sky rocketed. Everything was more accurately placed, with far less warping and puckering, not to mention painless to sew.When you're dealing with a lot of layers, or delicate and slippery ones... pins just don't suffice for accuracy. 
Even when you're sewing over pins (which I used to be guilty of, but don't anymore), there's still a considerable margin for error between each pin.
Always use contrasting thread, because you should always be taking it out afterwards.
It does suck to do and it's time consuming... but again, worth it-- a couture standard and for good reason. 

3. Take ergonomics seriously
When you're young, you feel invincible, but... that's pretty far from the truth. Bad lighting, bad posture, no preventative gear... it catches up. Especially when you're enjoying yourself.
Thimbles, chair cushions, extra lamps, wrist supports... these are a few of the things that will cut down fatigue and strain that cause aging to suck ass. 

4. Develop the habit of finishing your garment properly
I confess, I didn't line my garments for a very long time (but I always finished my seams!). It's kind of tough working backwards, that much is true. I wish I started learning this much sooner than when I did actually start. I think it's invaluable in learning the fundamentals in garment construction-- there's something to be said about learning something, and doing it backwards to ensure you understood what happened. Pathways in the brain open up!!
Plus, it's impressive looking as hell... heh. 

4. Don't "Cut on the fold"
I have always been one to make copies of my patterns to keep the original intact, but one thing that took me a long time to get into the habit of was mirroring those 'cut on fold' pieces into whole pieces. Cutting on the fold is a somewhat troublesome habit that pattern companies reinforce. The reason pattern companies do this is to make it easier to save on fabric, and to save on the tissue they print on... but you'll soon learn that it's not always possible, and no good has ever come from cutting corners. If you're keen on matching your print or you need to be especially conscious of your seam allowances, piles, grains, bias... basically anything (lol)... save yourself headaches and heartache by just doing the extra step.
In the photo above, you'll notice I still write in the cutting instructions; sometimes I mirror after I finish copying all the pieces, as a reminder to go back and mirror pieces. Later that will be erased.

6. Pay Attention to Grain lines. 
Seems like a no-brainer... but since I was so stingy with my fabric at first, I preoccupied myself on how much material I could save rather than pay attention to the placement of my pieces on the fabric. Cutting your material along different grains can severely warp your final product, but it won't be obvious until you try and wear it and it's not fixable mistake. Usually the material's selvage works as a guide to find your grain lines, but sometimes mystery fabrics happen and in that case research is key!

7. Be patient with mock ups, and use a material closest in drape as your 'good fabric'
If something is not working during the mock up stage, continue to work on it till it does and never mix weights; a cotton muslin material doesn't drape the same way silk crepe de chine does, and as tempting as it is to use because of how cheap it is per yard, it's not a good idea if you're looking to gauge how the fit or fixes will look as the crepe de chine...

8. Learn and apply pressing and ironing techniques and tools
Another one for the finishing technique pile but can stand on its own. Nothing looks more sloppy and more obviously homemade than an unpressed project-- it's not always needed, but it's important to learn when, where and how it should be done. I once heard someone say that an iron is as important as the sewing machine. At the beginning, I would laugh at such a statement... and now, I nod my head in agreement so fast I could sprain it.
There are almost as many tools and ways to press a garment during the construction process, as there are steps to constructing any garment... Above are just some of the 'basics'. Makes my head spin! 

9. Use and transfer pattern markings.
My very first self pattern drafts did not include a single marking, so I was unable to learn or discover any mistakes I made. I learned my lesson even harder going into commercial patterns, because without transferring the markings or even understanding why they were there to begin with, meant any attempt I made at alteration a futile one.

10.Keep Your Space Clean.
I know, ground breaking concept, heh.
Seriously, though, I think of my space much like I think of a laboratory-- hence why you'll often see me referring to my creative space as a "creative laboratory". You're dealing with a lot of things that, as funny as it is to think, can cause bodily harm. If not to yourself than perhaps a curious paw or tiny hand... You might be dealing with some substances that can destroy hours of work; like excess machine oil or grease that wasn't cleaned up properly... and suddenly you find an unsightly stain on that finished dress made up of out of print fabric in a very unfortunate and visible spot...
Shit happens, best prevent it as much as possible.


I guess the real lesson here is take your time, and your sewing will reward you. One well made garment is worth 100 crafted pieces of mediocrity. Even if one simple blouse takes you days... that's really ok, as long as you're taking away something from the experience.
There's comfort that with enough dedication and time, speed is an eventuality.
Find and know your way before you attempt short cuts; they can be so very seductive... but in the beginning, they can only be reductive.

So those are my ten, good luck to any future sewist out there.

Spook ya later!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mortem's Trick or Treats: A Time For Recouping.

It's been rough these past couple of weeks. Physically that is.
I have been fighting a small injury to my hip, that although small, nevertheless kept me from my usual freedoms. After I healed from that, I was stricken with a bad allergy attack that made my eyes swell up shut. After I took enough antihistamines to get them open it was just a matter of waiting and medicating for the rest of my body to follow suit...

Still, despite all of it, recovery time did offer me a moment to finish some smaller projects I kept putting off and of course writing on my blog-- that's why I have been so very active online, hehe.
Now that I'm mostly back to relative normality, I took the chance to model out a pair of overalls I finished before the allergy attack.

This was the project I had even earlier set aside to work on my version of McCall's 6503.
It was while I was deciding what to do for embellishments on this project that my path took me to the dress. After that struggle, a little break afterwards, and I guess the bruised hip (lol) I was able to finally get back to it.

This is McCall's 7547 in view C; the overall shorts.

Always wanted me a pair of velvet overalls, and now I finally have them-- with a few modifications.
And modifications there are a few of...

To start, I omitted side seams and any zippers or the connected waist bands that were originally designed with the pattern. In their place I used grommets for lace up details, and double sided button tabs to ensure they stay together-- in case unlacing should somehow occur.

Next, I added some pleather gear/cog appliques... though it would appear this idea was kind of a bust. They were meant to be more pronounce. I may add decorative rivets in order to accentuate the design, but I'm not sure I want to use the amount I would require for a substantial difference to be made. These appliques are placed on the bottom left front and the back right on the pocket.

I would give this a solid 'meh'.
Perhaps if I had not went with double textured materials, it might have panned out better.

The button tabs were things I had to draft in myself, though as you might imagine, not very difficult to do.

I took a portion of the original waist pattern piece and arrowed it off.
The method might have been easy, but the decision to use them wasn't; this new design feature. I bounced the idea around among buckles or snaps. None seemed more neutral in the end to any future belts I may wear than fabric covered buttons, since I kept the original belt loops in the design.
Lucky I had some button making kits in my stash leftover from making my bat dress.

My biggest revelation while making this up was the use of fabric glue. I know, sounds like a no-brainer to a crafter.
Once I did scoff the use in garment construction, because hand basting was more than sufficient, and glue can have rather unsightly effect on the finish, if you're using liquid glue or a strong enough stick glue. I use it all the time in my millinery and other accessory related craft... but during this, I wasn't in the mood to baste every seam in this to make it sit right.

Stick glue never liquid for basting
See, I don't have a velvet board; a tool used to press/iron velvet without affecting the pile adversely. It's also very expensive, and the sole reason I don't yet own one.
Fluffy towels are said to be a good substitute, but I don't have fluffy towels. It left me puzzling over what I could do to get the cooperation I desired when pins were too cumbersome for accuracy.

I bought this fabric glue pen to experiment in my millinery (brand: June Tailor), but the application was far too light for those purposes. Kind of an ah-ha moment.
A quick swatch test, and doors of possibilities opened.
I was able to make the straps and work under finite seam allowance with ease, all thanks to fabric glue basting; the pen applicator was acutely responsible for the level of handiness.

Pattern Overview:

  • The finished garment produces a close fitting/fitted pair of overalls, worth it to note for those looking for a loose fit. With major and complicated tweaks, the possibility is there. 
  • Front top pocket is not originally intended for View C, this is an optional piece for this view.
  • If you're using a material with not a lot of thickness, like I did, make sure you're reinforcing and adding an interfaced thick layer where the dungaree buttons will be installed.
  • It should be mentioned that originally the pattern has a side zipper closure, and a working front fly. I wanted neither.
  • Comes together very easily, though I suggest paying close attention to how you finish your seams and reinforce stress points; the crotch, corners of pockets, the point where the straps are attached, as well as front and back bibs along the waist.
So despite my resting witch face, I am very pleased and relieved with the outcome. I barely tested for fit, except for mocking up just the bottom portion and trying that on once, I didn't put them on again until I was fully finished. Kind of a gamble, especially considering the material-- velvet ain't the cheapest material on the market, most especially a quality crushed velvet that isn't stretch and doesn't look super costumey.

Until next time, fiends.
Spook ya later!


Top: Handmade-- Simplicity 8386
Necklace: Handmade
Boots & Hat: Ardenes and Ebay

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mortem's Trick or Treats: Art Inspired By Art.

I have a lot of things to catch up on, things I  have been up to during the past year...
I promised opening a shop, and for a good chunk of the year I was working on a few items to fill that shop.

I suddenly find myself in a position of not quite liking the name I had chosen for myself earlier... and I still haven't been able to settle on a name I feel at home with; nothing seems to be speaking to me much.

Anyway, I wasn't going to focus on my sewing with the shop so I started making some hand painted items-- these items were made a few months ago, but like I said, I am catching up on the going ons in my humble abode.

I started with a jewelry box. The idea was to make a kind of folk-y type kind of jewelry box... but I don't know how much I succeeded, because images of vintage beistles danced across my head.

I free handed all the pencil outlines, using the popular scaredy cat napkin as a reference. It's funny, this is my absolute favorite beistle cut out... and I don't own it. One day I will... I'd like to focus on collecting them in the future-- them and blow molds.

I can't remember where I bought the little blank trinket jewelry box-- it wasn't normally from one of the main craft shops. Some little mom and pop shop I believe... could be a chance it was a thrift store too... Sadly my memory fails me, but I was ecstatic when I found it. I have to track down where to find more just like it.

I got a little carried away with some of the details, which is why I say it is not quite a folk-y type box any longer... it's just an art box?

You know when you love creating something, and all your love is pouring right into the project?
I mean I guess I experience that with everything I am creating, but I felt it ten fold while painting this lil thing. Painting is a nice break from my usual going on's; perhaps I am just speaking out of my ass... Well.

I am second guessing that spider web ribbon that holds the lid/mirror up. Maybe I should have went with lace, as I did decoupage a bit on the top. I used some really pretty damask felt to line the top storage portion, and instead of using it in the drawered portion I continued the spooky design-- there was a lack of bats on this box, these kind of turned into a nice little 'surprise'.

Oh oh, and my favorite part of this little box?

It glows in the dark!
Glow in the dark paint is my new favorite thing. I can't stop painting with it, and adding it anywhere I can.
So this was supposed to be for selling, yet despite what I made it for, I don't think I can replicate it... and its been in my possession since I made it back in December of last year, and since no one has expressed an interest in it I feel extremely inclined to keep it for myself.

I did make another little hand painted piece of vintage-halloween inspired love around the same time that I hope to have sold to a loving home.

It's heart shaped, get it? Get it?

I really wanted to continue experimenting with some of the surplus of supplies I had bought from doing a halloween swap and the supplies I had bought to build stock for my shop; I got a little zealous, to say the least. I had a huge block of white sculpey clay... so I've been making a few things- pendants, charms, pop out details to some hand painted wood wall hangings... hehe.

This one was inspired by another popular beistle stand up cut out, the pumpkin wasn't a part of it and was also inspired by yet another beistle print (couldn't find the exact pumpkin I referenced, but it was a set of pumpkins not unlike those in the link). Of course it also glows in the dark as well!

Ooooh, spooky lil ghosts!

Though I guess I didn't use as much glow in the dark paint on the pumpkin as I thought I did. It's so faint in the photo... but still visible in person.
If you're interested please feel free to email me for info and such:

I hope sooner than later I can land on a shop name to get this ball continuing to roll... in the meantime, I will be making many more Halloween inspired goodies that I may or may not decide to keep, haha!

Spook ya later, fiends!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: I've Been Tagged! -- Darkling Tag

I was tagged by the ethereal Vulcan Butterfly with questions provided by Graveyard Kitten.

I tag the incredibly talented and fellow spooky sewist Mary Mourning (Autumn Moon Enchantment), the mistress of the Gothic Cottage in the Spooky Forest Mrs. Insomniac (Insomniac's Attic) and last but not least, the ever inspirational Luna Von Bat (Batshit & Lipsticks).

Honourable mentions include:
Frykitty -- Frytopia
Sarah -- Tales From A Geordie Goth
House Cat -- Domesticated

Prepare for a long winded affair my friends; questionnaires (and reading them) are such fun for me-- and a great way to procrastinate on my current project list, haha! ...

Simple Questions
What is your favorite candle scent?
I prefer burning incense.
Do you have a favorite book?
Favorite book-book will always be Frankenstein, but I'm more of a comic book and graphic novel kind of gal. My current favorite is the Dark Crystal series published by Archaia. They also have the Labyrinth series which I'd love to read once I finish my current batch of comics.
Are you a tea or coffee person?
Could never acquire a taste for coffee in any of its various forms. I do like a good cup of tea... but it still wouldn't be the first thing I crave.
What's your favourite perfume/cologne?
My own blend? Heh. Perfuming would be one of my hobbies... current combination is heavy woodsy, and a touch of spice.
Song of India makes sumptuous perfume oils that I've used for years, but they don't make many blends.
Do you have a celebrity crush?
I respect Lupita Nyong'o, she's very talented and graceful. I guess also Crispin Glover and Jim Carrey. These three view the world with such amazing depth and complexity that at least for the latter two, seemed to be a detriment to their acting careers.
If you could change your name to a stereotypical 90s/2000s gothy name, what it would be?
I'm using it...
What are your top three tips for surviving hot weather while black clad?
Only you can judge what you can wear based on your tolerance to heat.
What song will always make you happy (doesn’t have to be a goth band)?

Dignificada by Lila Downs

and one more for good measure...

Isobel by Björk

Are you active in the arts (ex. play an instrument, paint, write, etc)?
I'd say sewing is an art, especially at the level I aspire to... but for this example, I do paint and draw fairly well, it just isn't that often. I am also quite fond of writing haiku's every now and again.
What is your number one non-gothy hobby?
Gaming. I always say that if I am not sewing or crafting, I am gaming; I share this hobby with my husband who I met through a game.
I am mostly a PC gamer, but we own several consoles ranging in Gens from current to old-- including handhelds. My computer rig is now dated down to about a mid range by current available hardware; I built it two years ago. I can still run many games on ultra settings maintaining a nice FPS, but it can always be better. Keeping up to date isn't cheap, and lately we've had a lot of expenditures that put off upgrading our PC's back up to high tier. We're looking at AMD for our next cards; we sported EVGA currently and in the past; my current card is a GTX 970; hubby's is a GTX 980 Ti-- he gets the better gear since he has no other hobby he spends his dosh on. It's only recently that AMD have been competing enough to turn our heads, so our future builds will include them.  Love Corsair for keyboard and mice-- I have never had better-- had a couple Razer's but I never enjoyed them. I have a vengeance k70 cherry mx brown keyboard and a vengeance m90 mouse to match-- the mouse is no longer available, and the complaints people had with it are my pluses; has a smaller profile (good for tiny gamer hands like mine) and it has some weight to it (that a combination palm/fingertip gripper like me appreciates). Currently I have a Thermaltake Overseer RX-I snow edition case... would have preferred a Cooler Master since they generally have a wider profile, but aesthetically, none matched my vision at the time; my hubby's rig is black and red, and mine is white and blue... red corner blue corner as in most games, black and white as in chess... yeah... Looking to change that now and adore the idea of tempered glass or the open air ones.
Well... I could continue, as there is much more to be mentioned... but I will stop here before I make this post longer than it needs to be... heh.
If you're interested in reviews of games or a full post on my equipment, let me know-- I usually leave it out since it always seems like a thing best suited to video reviews... and I am nowhere near that level of comfort, hehe.

Thought Provokers

If you could be a supernatural creature, what would it be and why?
Dr. Manhattan. Here's his wiki to understand why. Look at the side info bar of his abilities for the tl;dr version.
What horror monster super-powers would you have?
All powers of a typical witch. I may not live to forever, but I can extend my time and of those around me damn near long enough through potions and arcane knowledge. Plus flying on a broom and conversing with my cats? What's not to love.
Do you feel confident or comfortable interacting with other goths or gothy people (online or irl)? Why or why not?
If my stats were laid out in RPG format, Charisma would be in the negative.
Which is more important for a look: great hair or great makeup?
Well since I am adept at neither... least of which would be hair...
I guess that would make makeup my answer.
Is there something you wish there was more of in your subculture?
I wish more goths of color would pound out content, as we are still lacking in general representation. It's a trickle, but if we involve ourselves more we can make an impact to help curb the stereotype that goth belongs only to those who are white enough. Never heard people more vehement against goths of color, than people of my own ethnic background. That said, it pains to me admit I know no goths of color in person or online (though I subbed to a few on youtube very recently)... I want to change this, so comment your favorite goth blogger who happens to be a person of color (comment your blog if you are a POC as well, don't feel badly about self advertisement!). Heck, I'll follow IG alternative model accounts if you got 'em-- the only real stipulation is that the site is maintained a least semi regularly.
Care to share an embarrassing story related to your "darkliness"?
My life is a series of embarrassing stories related to my darkliness. I blunder through all things.
How are you at DIY?
There isn't much inside my house or on my persons that hasn't been made, repaired, refurbished or installed without my direct involvement.

Confessional (aka True or False)

I love watching cheesy romance films.
True/false. I pop them on as background noise mostly.
I always remember to wash off my makeup at night.
True. When I wear it, always.
I sleep with plushies.
True. I have a plushie that I had since I was 4 that rests at my side of the headboard-- Charlie, a little Dalmatian that barks when you boop its nose. Never far from where I sleep.
I wear non-black pyjamas most nights.
False. I can count on one hand the number of full color garments in my revolving wardrobe, including undergarments...
I think Andrew Eldritch is overrated.
I don't think about Andrew Eldritch outside the music.
I don’t like vampires.
I don’t like clubs.
True. Only been to one club and a handful bars in my life (neither by choice). In general I have a hard time enjoying myself in those environments-- I get easily overwhelmed by external stimuli.
I don’t enjoy graveyards.
True/false. I love looking at them from afar, but again... I get overcome with all kinds of emotions when I linger too long. Sometimes filled with good in which case I'll stick around a while, and sometimes filled with bad, and I'm gone.
I'd sooner faint than pet a spider.
Depends on the spider. I would rather not pet one that has the ability to necrotize an appendage with a bite.
I don’t like haunted houses.
True/false. For the same reason as graveyards.
I’ve never read Dracula.
I think “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a long and boring song.

Thanks for the tag, and I look forward to reading those whom I tagged!
Spook you later!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Spooky Basket: Killstar Stuff.

So earlier in the year I was given a couple Killstar goodies by a friend for my birthday.

...Well, 'given' is a loose term I'm using to feel better about the circumstances, hehe; I made an agreement and gave only half of it at the time but since my birthday was close by he said to consider it a birthday gift... though I technically still owe him the other half of our bargain to this day.

Tangent aside, I received the Cult Ritual Hood and the Grave Digger Skull Bag; a picture of me wearing the hoodie can be seen here: IG @ mari_mortem, along with a couple scattered ones of the purse incorporated in a couple outfits.

The hoodie runs very big-- it's for men after all. We initially ordered a medium, and I was drowning in it in the most unflattering way. I know it's supposed to be kind of baggy, but this was very comical.
Exchanging it was a relatively easy process for those living within the US... but I hear it's kind of pain for those outside. One of my friends was charged over $200 CAD for customs fees-- quite ridiculous.

I exchanged it for an XS and now it fits the way it should. I'm very happy with the material of it, it's a nice thick sweatshirt fleece material; one side is smooth like jersey almost like a ponte, and the inside/wrong side has fleece. I think the seams could be reinforced by looking at them, but I don't fully expect a major malfunction... however, living in San Antonio, I don't have many days I can wear it for any length of time to be certain of this. Regardless, I am a seamstress, I can fix whatever may rip on it... it would just be very unfortunate to discover major flaws for the price you're paying.

Which seems to be something I'm good at doing it.
Finding flaws.

The Grave digger purse... how pretty it is! ...

Sad to say that I found its flaw.
It's no surprise the bag handles awkwardly. It's not soft, it's hard and somewhat cumbersome-- although I could also argue that part of the reason I love it was for the size and amount of room within it.

Nothing technically ripped off like the case of my eyeball bag from Kreepsville which was an incredibly infuriating shoddy craftsmanship discovery, but rather for the grave digger bag it was merely a bad choice of notions.

These appeared to be actual rivets that are originally installed into the bag, but after a few occassions wearing it out I was unfortunate to discover the hard way that these were actually the screw-in type.
My bag fell off my shoulder-- d-ring, tab and all-- because the simple sway of the awkward bag managed to unscrew the rivet from its seating. Since this doesn't have any other handle, I carried it like a basketball back to the car.

I thought, maybe it was a fluke maybe I just need to tighten it better because it wasn't fully done so in the manufacturing process. But again on a different occasion, it eventually unscrewed itself in the sway and I carried it back to the car the same way as before.

So, frustrated, I took a little knife and slit the lining, removed these stupid screw ins and replaced them with real, heavy-duty-for-leather-rivets.

I haven't had an issue since. Knock on wood.

Have you bought anything from Killstar?
What was your experience like?

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?

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