Thursday, February 27, 2014

Freakshow Films: Disgruntled Youth

It's been a looong time since I added anything more to Freakshow films.
Which is funny, because I indulge more in movies than listen to music while I craft. I listen to music more when I travel around... and I haven't been doing much of that since moving to Holbrook.

But anyway.
Today's Freakshow film theme is disgruntled youth... and I'm not speaking about bratty selfish youth, such as those seen in the likes of the movie 'Brave' (yes, I absolutely hated it).

The stages of both these movie has a completely retro-esque feel but are set in modern times:

Never Let Me Go

Based off a novel (which I have never read), this film appeared, at first glance, to be nothing more than one of the typical films Keira Knightley has acted in before. As you continue to watch the film, an intricate plot begins unraveling with truly disturbing realizations.

What makes this movie truly good is the sophisticated and well filmed take on an otherwise well known story of a dystopian society. I highly recommend it, but be warned, it does not end happily.

Source: Sound on Sight

Next up is a short one; indeed, I do love short films! They had a big hand in forming who I am today-- much like music has for others. This is by a director who made a lasting impression on me; Jamie Travis. I was first introduced to his work (once upon a time) through his short film 'Why The Anderson Children Didn't Come to Dinner'.
It was only after I decided to look up that film did I realize he did more work... and by the gods he's progressed really well with his new work, but kept his signature style.

Without further ado, I give you:

The Armoire

I won't spoil the story, because you can see for yourself by sparing a few moments to watch.
If his style tickled your fancy, I suggest you watch the rest of his films on his Vimeo channel-- you won't be disappointed... but maybe a little confused, heheh.

I hope you enjoyed today's feature films
...and that you didn't really need too many tissues.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: The Introduction

I receive a lot of questions about my sewing; how I learned to sew, can I teach one to sew, or are my sewing skills up for hire.

Because of the frequency of these questions, I've finally decided (after very long consideration) I shall endeavor to teach you, my readers, everything I know.
Now just to clarify, I'm not a tenured professional-- I taught two private classes on the rudimentary skills of sewing and jewelry making, but beyond that, I haven't attempted to teach a larger group of people. I make no claims to be all-knowing in matters of sewing.
But some people seem to believe I have something to share, and I have mentioned in the past about a slight desire to thrust what I know upon the world...

And so, I welcome you to the recent addition to my blog. Knock knock...

Mortem's Sewing Tricks or Treats!

I know, not very clever... but neither are any titles I choose for my blog, eheh.
I'd like to begin the first post with a brief intro into what to expect in this new section.

I absolutely, positively love sewing books, and own quite a bit of them-- you could say I'm a bit of a connoisseur. They're all helpful in their own way to help people on the path to learning how to sew. However, the thing I find distressing is that quite a lot of them cater to the insta-gratification crowd, offering an abundance of projects, but very little in the way of truly beginner content.

In the first few posts I plan on covering the topic most people begin with; getting to know your machine.
I found that most people/books can be vary vague about this topic; covering what they believe is all you need to know, such as thread tensions, types of stitches, machine anatomy... etc.
Yes, those are really important things to know, I won't argue that, but the thing that bothers me is that they very briskly (or not at all) cover other equally important topics, such a needle types, introduction to the various types of fundamental presser feet, and most importantly, preventative maintenance. These things also hardly change with the passing of time, and I feel are just as important to instill into beginners as the rest.

For these reasons, you'll see that many of the recommendations I'll make on reading material are in favor of the books Mary Brooks Picken's wrote or had a contribution in. If her biography isn't enough to impress you, surely the amount of timeless knowledge her books are so popular for will.
But mainly, I hope that my somewhat "self taught" perspective, will supplement and help demystify some of the basics that one finds in the books and other material I shall be posting about.

And now, for the first contribution...

Pick a mascot!

I can't remember where or when I got this, but I recently unearthed it and it was begging to sit atop my machine. I have never owned a machine that didn't eventually have a mascot. It gives me a face to beg to when something doesn't go right with my sewing machine...

By the way, I'm only half serious. In reality, you shouldn't be afraid to customize your machine(s), as long as you're not hindering its functions. Think of your machine as an extension of your creativity (as it really is)-- how can you be inspired to sew when your machine doesn't promote the continuance of the inspirational flow? 
This doesn't seem all that important, and truth be told it isn't actually integral to learning to sew... but it does help ease the process of familiarizing with your machine if it doesn't look nearly as intimidating as it did out of the box.

With thimble on hand, we shall conquer the world of sewing!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spooky Basket: Adventures In Wishmaking

Huh, I don't believe I've ever made a wishlist post on my blog...
...No I don't think I have...

I'm sure that "retail therapy" comes to mind when you're feeling confused and out of luck, but since I can't actually buy anything at the moment, I am surprisingly content with just hoping for it.

Truthfully, my actual wishlists consist primarily of items with a purpose, like sewing tools, kitschy but informative how-to books, computer hardware... that sort of thing.
I generally buy whatever trinket, movie or game as whim carries my desire at the time, so there isn't really a time I can linger on the feeling of wanting it.

Is it me or does my text read a little more poetically when I'm feeling blue... just a weird little side thought...

Anyway, onto the "window shopping" (and in no particular order...)

1. Sewing treadle jewelry music box.

I collect jewelry music boxes. It's yet another weird little obsession I have-- what can I say, I love the creepy little music of each one, especially the slightly broken ones. So when it comes together in the perfect marriage of quaint and whimsy with my love of vintage sewing... you know I'm all over it. I don't even care that it received bad ratings.

2.  Singer Featherweight 221.
Source: April 1930
Speaking of my obsession with vintage sewing...
If I had to choose one thing to be the #1 item I wanted, it would be this, without hesitation. Exactly like this, with the filigree face plate and all (which is really hard to find). Isn't she a beauty? I haven't met a sewist yet in which this wasn't on their wishlist somewhere. Buying a used one isn't actually that expensive... but the cost of restoration and finding all it's original feet and attachments does bump it up into wishlist-hood.

3. Fantasy Travel Posters

@ Byebye, Robot

I adore the National Park vintage travel posters-- they offer them at the park where my hubs works, so every time I go into the gift shop, I'm always so tempted to buy all the post cards... even though I've never actually visited most of them. Luckily, some gloriously talented and awesome people were thinking along the same lines as I was, and I promptly stumbled onto these awesome fantasy travel posters after a very quick search. The first ones I discovered were from this illustrating company Ster-Kinekor, and it drove me stark crazy that they don't actually sell these posters-- argh! Minas Tirith would've fit so beautifully with our LotR decor goin' on, and it's actually something I could be happy about when it comes to the precious. I also really want that Overlook Hotel one for my room... but gah, blast it!
I was happy to find some Star Trek inspired ones later on-- so now I'm not so down about those other ones. Ah Risa, now there's a place I (imaginatively) went to with much more gusto than Minas Tirith...
And if you're feeling a little more old school, there's always Cestus III!

4. Bodum "Le Pot" Tea set.


I think people can easily guess why exactly I want this set from the watermark... but if you haven't guessed, and you didn't follow the link, it's the infamous cups in which Cpt. Picard usually has his tea, earl grey, hot, in...
My brother found one cup and one spoon at the thrift store that he gave me (and it really is freakin' awesome), but I think it would be even more spectacular if I had an entire set. I love niche items that are really only obvious to people who follow such things... like the whole travel poster thing, and cushions... and yeah, you get the point...

5. A Skull Area Rug

Source: Unknown (please help me locate it!)

I want this one in particular, but the source evades my searches...
Its begun haunting me, just as that fabric has been constantly haunting me. It's everything I look for in dark, classy but modern decor. I just may take up rug hooking just to give myself the chance of actually owning it... how hard can it be?! It's like, what, 5 colors at the most? Heheh.
...I wonder how well it would vacuum...

Alright, since my rambling pretty much made this a huge post, I'll stop there... but this was fun. I might actually do it again, *wink*.

Till next time, ladies and gents!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: I *Should* Be Happy.

Life is once again taking a turn for the stay-up-all-night stressful.

I was volunteering for an admin job in the hopes that I might be hired on, but because I'm not a citizen of the U.S. I didn't make the cut.

So, yeah, I was a little crushed by having spent all the time volunteering my hours for naught. At the very least, it's a good thing to put onto my absolutely pathetic resume, which has been reviewed by everyone I trust or hired to do so when I went to get my GED (yeah, that's right, I am a high school drop out)
No one can manage to make me seem impressive on paper. I am pleased to see it's at least a page with normal text, as opposed to half a page.

Though as frequently as having my hopes dashed occurs, it still manages to make me blue. My mother has been saying "things happen for a reason" or "good things happen eventually" so often, I'm surprised she hasn't lost her voice.

We received a bit of "good news", though I haven't been able to be excited about it because of the enormous underlying problems that entail it.
My husband was accepted for another job in another state-- New Mexico to be exact.
Most people looked at us wide-eyed as if they'd never see us alive again, and "wished us well".
New Mexico does have a shady reputation... but at least it's not Hellbrook... right? (famous last words)

We're moving to another town; double the size of Holbrook, but much much more isolated. It would take much longer to visit a city than it does here. There are literally signs on the stretches of highway before the town, that warn drivers to fill up, lest you breakdown where you can't even see a flicker of light from a distant farm for miles upon miles in any direction-- not unlike here.

Since it's a bigger town, it means more opportunity for me to work, meaning we can actually pay off debt as opposed to just treading water with it... which I am all too thrilled at the prospect of. However (and I really hate that there's a 'however')... the clause is that the town is suffering a rental shortage. All the rent prices are practically gouged, but we would attempt to pay it... if there was any availability that I could find in the near future...

If that wasn't enough, there are many more very real issues that need addressing once and if we do find a place; issues that have the possibility of concerning my physical safety, and the financial repercussions of ensuring it to solve them.
Hopefully we find the ideal place so we don't have to worry about those issues...

The main concern right now is finding a place, because if we don't, then suddenly this bit of news will be just like the rest: a crumbled hope.

P.S. For those wondering about the past announcement I made that I was moving, and wondering what happened, here's the scoop.
Before the Government shut down, many federal sections went through budget cuts; a sequestration. National Parks were among the first to receive them. This meant that, among other things, anyone hoping to get hired on in other places were suddenly told 'no'. We were part of the unlucky few who were told that. It's a simple and complicated as that.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spooky Basket: Things Synonymous With 'Awesome'

I'd like to confess something:
I have a bit of a fetish.

A foot fetish.
(que dramatic music).

Not the typical fetish you see... I'm in love with presser feet.

There are a myriad of presser feet for a plethora of applications-- it's liable to make your head spin!
I found it incredibly irksome that my machine only came with 6 (6 is honestly quite a lot...). I needed them all, even if the probability of me using each one is really low in the grand scheme of my sewing necessities.

Last month, my brother-in-law gave me money for a late Christmas present, and because my wishlist was rather barren from Nov. and Dec. rush of gifts (spoiled rotten), I knew exactly where to use it...

That's right, a 32 piece set and a little walking/even feed foot on the side! It just came in yesterday, and let me tell ya, that wait felt like forever-- I was that excited. Hell I even doodled my excitement into another piece to hang in my sewing room, hehe...

Can't seem to stop drawing banners in my doodles these days...

I bought the 32 piece off ebay from a vendor whom I shopped with before: Windylegend. I like them a lot; they're always reliable, affordable, their products are always spot on to what they described, and they give you a tracking number that actually works. They all snap beautifully into the ankle of my brother SE 400. I haven't given them all a test sew yet, but the few that I have (cording, rolled hems and low shank zipper foot) work just as intended.

Now, for the walking/even feed foot, I went with another vendor on ebay; 99hk. I am always a little wary with new people I shop from, but it turned out to be yet another really good vendor that offered the same as Windylegend; tracking number, spot on description and pictures, etc.

 It's completely worth it to have this strange and complicated looking foot; it works very similar to that of the walking foot on an industrial... only you don't get the torque and differential feed of the actual industrial.
Anyway, point being, this thing is invaluable with multiple layers that you either can't pin or clip together, but need to keep the layers together as accurately as possible under the capabilities of a household machine. I also took this little guy for a spin, and it worked amazingly to sew a rather thick case for my neighbor's external hard drive without any fidgeting about on the feed dogs (2 internal layers of wool felt, and 1 quilting cotton exterior).

Maybe some day I'll get into the specific functions of each foot, but not today-- the function of the even feed is enough... that's a lot of territory to cover, and I need time to prep! Heh.

Moving on, I took it upon myself to create two costumes for a friend attending the Calgary Comic Expo (which I desperately wish I could attend, as well). Then discovering, upon my visit home, that the drafting tools I had left behind had rusted or somehow broke...

It was a fairly devastating and desperate situation.
So, I have made the checklist of items I lost, and have begun searching deals for their immediate acquisition... I took on more freelance work, so it's kind of important that I get it all again, heh.

I do most of my searching on ebay, and why not, deals are abundant there... and that's exactly where I found this little set; from the vendor Sharpsewing.

Left to right: pattern notcher, awl, needle point pattern wheel
Since I've already finished the first draft of one costume, I'll be discussing the uses for each of these tools in that coming post. For now I bequeath the deal unto anyone seeking decent affordable tools for drafting. Mine did come with a tape measure, in case you're wondering where it is in my set.

Last, but definitely not least...

The ever beautiful, Homepro LR by American Tag. Sadly, it was discontinued and ripped from every imaginable retail shelf, and naturally, became an item of great desire among sewists.

Purple and cast iron-- is there a better combination? I think not.

It's a grommet/eyelet/rivet/nailhead/rhinestone/snap setter. It's nigh impossible to find a setter that has that amount of space in the "mouth"-- it's where it gets the 'LR' in its name (Long Reach). My youngest brother snatched it up for me on ebay, and it included a treasure trove of different bits, grommets and eyelets. It was quite a catch.

 I managed to track down and buy the remaining bits for its other applications, so it's technically as complete as it could be... well, minus the elusive carrying case it was once sold with. It was pretty ugly and didn't match the homepro in the least, anyhow. I haven't really got a chance to use it on real time projects, just testing purposes... but so far, it's everything the hype promised.


I made an impulse buy...
I know, surprise surprise.

Thinking about the dusty purple damask chenille I left behind, I decided I better decide quickly (lol) about what I intend to make once the desire becomes too much to hold back.

Target style: View B

Yeah, it's another pattern. Hey! I'm building a nice collection here *wink*.

I want to make the base the main view of these options; view B (minus that awkward chunk of faux fur they call a collar). Of course, I'll be adding alterations à la mortem.
I'm really thrilled with my choice! Because if I let myself mull for too long, and I purchase the fabric, I would get to the point where I'd be too afraid to cut into it... and that would be a damn shame.

Man oh man, I have so many things to work/budget/plan on now-- I'm extremely thrilled to be such a busy body!

"Shop smart, shop S Mart!"
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