Thursday, September 24, 2015

Freakshow Films: A Fantastic Fear of Everything.

Growing up I've always heard that there will come a time when the greatest enemy I would face is myself. It's hard to put that into the perspective of a person who typically hasn't lived long enough to understand the depth of that warning.

So, how does one really prepare for such an intangible battle? For starters, popping some popcorn might help.

Tonight's feature I bequeath a tale of a protagonist battling his own demons in what I believe to be a cinematic work of art-- a tale told through the surreal scope of the cerebrum.

Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything.

Despite being in my queue since it's arrival on Netflix, there was never a better time then now when I chose to finally watch this film.

To quote the synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:
Jack (Simon Pegg) is a children's author turned crime novelist whose detailed research into the lives of Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck, persecuted by an irrational fear of being murdered. When Jack is thrown a life-line by his long-suffering agent, and a mysterious Hollywood executive takes a sudden and inexplicable interest in Jack's script, what should be his 'big break' rapidly turns into his 'big breakdown' as Jack is forced to confront his worst fears; among them love, laundry and serial killers.
Sure it has received a slew of mixed reviews, but yours truly does recommend it fully-- especially if you're in a sort of existential bind and in the mood for a redeeming comic story that will poke fun at your own black cloud... or in this case, your unpeeled banana.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Mabel by Swoon.

I told myself I wouldn't make another bag, but I am constantly lying to myself about these things.
Not when there's so much out there to sew.

Like indie pattern companies-- like Swoon.
I am in no way affiliated with them... I just love to gawk at their bag patterns and trying out the engine through their free pattern section. A test ride, if you will. I'll make a legitimate purchase... I will! I just have weird issues committing myself to doing it.

It really is weird.

I am trying to find myself the perfect body for a bag that will ultimately become my go-to bag. Something not huge, not tiny, but has lots of character... and it must be a cross-body.

I put the Mabel in my queue after I had finished the Ethel, but for whatever reason I kept pushing it back.

When I joined the closed swap, it gave me a fine reason to take it for a spin, and see how I liked constructing it, the way it looked and felt-- and of course to make someone happy in the process too!

Cathartic cat pincushion approves.

What I liked best about this pattern was its stellar use of what is essentially scraps. I made this using an equivalent to four fat quarters (two of each print) and some black scraps from my heap, and it is very surprisingly roomy and big!

So now I don't think I'll feel so guilty buying a tiny bit of fabric that I like but probably would never wear as a garment. A little bit of how I felt with this particular fabric-- I mean it's insanely cute, but I just haven't found the right garment pattern for it. Perhaps an underbust... hmm...

As I tend to do with most patterns that fall into my hands, I made a couple small changes-- turning it into a cross-body purse from a little handbag. I also chose to make the side gussets contrasting in black, and the lining in a orange and black polka dot; I'm all about that contrast.

The pattern uses the method of applying iron on interfacing to stabilizer thats been adhered to the fabric using basting spray, something I am still not that sure is the most efficient way to add body to any bag. I've heard of the method before, and even after this bag, I am still tentative about it. Kinda made my room stink once that basting spray heated up under the iron. Basting spray is also super messy, and stinky of itself when you're spraying it on-- I don't really use it much, I must confess.

It got the job done, but again, I don't think it's the best method, though perhaps the most readily available/economic to people. I have a few ideas, but I'd have to take it to the creative laboratory for testing, heh.

As with the Ethel tote, the instructions are also delightfully easy to understand, though take that with a grain of salt, as I am speaking with heaps and heaps of bias on my back having spent many hours acquainting myself with sewing jargon. On the whole though... I think it'd make a great intermediate bag project, just like the Ethel; I'd consider making this one before the Ethel, though, some aspects of the Ethel are just slightly teetering towards difficult.

There is one thing I wanted to illustrate through images that I didn't when I completed the Ethel and Mabel, but I forgot to take photos of the entire process again; it'll make the description more than a little difficult to understand, but here goes...

It has to do with the magnetic closure the two bags have, basically ignore what the package tells you on how to apply it. There is a washer with two vertical holes flanking a central hole-- instead of using the prods to dent the fabric to mark it as the instructions suggest, simply align the central hole on the washer to your marking on the fabric, and then use the vertical holes to mark where the prods will go and how long the cut needs to be. Perfect application every time, and I only realized it after I had messed up with the flap portion of the bag, puckering it a bit.

Well, I'm glad I gave the pattern a whirl because it just might've gave me that last push I really needed to buy myself a Swoon Pattern subscription package, heh

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tales of Trial and Terror: Bat Wing Shoes, Polymer Pumpkins, Watery Witches... Oh My!

Its been entirely too long since I've dabbled in anything outside my sewing bubble.

Partly because fabric has officially overtaken my craft room, but mostly because I still haven't been reunited with the supplies and tools I have stored at my momma's house back in Canada.

When I was invited to participate in a closed Halloween swap, I jumped at the chance to let my creativity really flow-- the chance to make someone happy with Halloween goods is an odd pleasure of mine. I think mostly because other than people online, there isn't many people I know who are as enthusiastic about Halloween as I am. I also seem to be the most creative/productive when I know I am making something for someone.

Anyway, this swap gave me a really good excuse to get reacquainted with old crafts, and discover new ones. There were many frustrated sounding "crap"s and "damnit"s heard from the closed doors of my craft room... but despite the sounds and words, I was having the time of my life. How I missed creating halloweeny goods.

Once upon a time, I used to dream of working with polymer clay.
That time has long since passed in favor of other things, mostly grown up things-- like job searching, bill paying, and spending my liquid budget on sewing supplies.
Now that I have the excess of time again and some wiggle room away from sewing, I brought down the unnecessarily large box of white clay from another time I tried getting back to polymer clay creation-- the time I knocked off eyeball hair bows. By the way, I ended up buying liquid polymer clay and it does wonders, I tell you, wonders!

I wanted to make pumpkins... many many pumpkins. Instead I ended up with one. One's a start!

At one point it had a stem; a cute swirly one.
Alas... when I was spraying on the seal, the force of the blast knocked it off the table and smashed it off. I decided to keep it off because if the short fall was able to break it off, then surely dangling from a phone would break it off again. Next time I'll make a thicker stem and try attaching it to an inner wire.
It was also my first time using this brand of seal-- it's from plaid, it's their Matte seal. I can't give an opinion of it because unlike bicycle riding, I forgot the do's and don'ts, and used it under humid conditions-- crap. It remained tacky several hours later, despite having a 30 min cure time. Opps.
Well, one neat aspect of this little charm is that I gave the face a coat of glow in the dark paint... so when the lights are off, its smiling face remains seen. I wish there was a way for me to show just how adorable it is in the dark.

Next, I wanted to make bat wings for shoes.
I don't remember where the heck I saw the project; likely pinterest or facebook; but I knew I just had to make them.

"OMIGAWD BAT WINGS!" totally what Khan is saying.

Well, they turned out pretty successful... after a few failed attempts at making those blasted holes!

I had to bust out my entire arsenal of hole makers. First to be used were my very under used metal punchers inside the coffin which I had purchased at a liquidation mall. No wonder they were under used, because all they managed to do was create an unsightly dent.

Second up was yet another under utilized item from my sewing room... the hole punching pliers. Alas, twas not to be little pliers... you stink at making holes! Maybe I didn't have enough wrist strength for you, though...

I sat for a moment and mulled over my failures, and decided it was because they were not sharp enough. So armed with a 50% off coupon, I went and bought the punches (in blue) from Joanns. After using the plethora of hammers in our household (from rubber to industrial), they did nothing but marr the leather like the rest. I kept them, in case their failure was of my own inexperience... and because the tips were cone shaped, unlike the ones I already had.

Feeling a little defeated, I sat for another moment...
Then it dawned on me that I had the home pro LR that my brother had given me!
There it sat on the shelf, untested on real leather... hmmm.
I made sure to pet it and pray to the sewing gods that my money wasn't invested in vain in this thing, buying all its hard-to-find accessories.

It cut through with a satisfying plunge. Suuuuucccessss. I do wonder what the long term ramifications of making many bat wings are though...

Last but not least, I bought myself a cheap palette of water colors. After water coloring a strip of bacon onto a post card for a friend, it gave me a real taste for the medium-- the palette she had given me was one of those crayola ones with a limited range of color. The one I bought was no different in quality, but had a few more colors to play with.

I had planned to paint this for a little bit in a way; it's from a little halloween party favor; a tiny little notebook. I simply forgot about it until I wanted to add a little bit of everything to the box to be swapped.
I changed the colors and a few details a bit but the image/concept stuck with me for years. I was actually really surprised it turned out the way it did... at first it looked like a horrid mess with no definition. I kept adding too much water, then loading my brush too heavily. Some dabs took too much off, and some dabs moved the paint to a really weird spot.
After it dried, I took an ink pen and created those hard lines; it cleaned it up remarkably well. Funny how a few harsh lines can affect the overall effect of a piece. Perhaps I may even continue to water color... maybe even take a class? One can dream.

These aren't the only contents of the box, mind you. Just ones that took a little more effort on my end to complete-- things that make good...

Trials and terror! Muahaha...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: With The Birds I'll Share This Lonely View.

I've been feeling a lot like Filler Bunny. I'm unsure if it's true to form depression, or just some kind of self fulfilled prophecy that I've unwittingly accepted.

My mother is officially in remission, but those sob stories on facebook of people suffering a recurrence have been poisoning what joy the news was supposed to bring-- filling me instead with nightmares of waking up and my mother just being gone. It feels like I'm entirely surrounded by these stories, and I haven't been able to sleep more than 3-5 hours at a time.

On Wednesday, my hubby decided to take me along on his business trip to Corpus Christi to help Padre Island National Park-- and to enjoy the sun and water, too. Unfortunately, I hadn't slept a wink since Monday and my energy reserves were so low I struggled just to stand up during the entire tour.

We went to lunch and then headed back to the hotel; I barely made it to the bed before I crashed and slept and slept till the next morning. I was hoping I'd get to enjoy the day after, but I was still a little wobbly on my legs.

The walk from the office to the beach felt like a marathon-- one I probably shouldn't have made alone, but I was quite determined to enjoy the beach, if just for the sake of my hubby literally having to tug me along the day before. Early morning at the beach is incredibly serene... there wasn't a soul in sight in any direction-- except pelicans, seagulls and a bunch of tiny little crabs I tried not stepping on as I made my way to the water's edge.

The water was incredibly warm and certainly inviting, but I just did not have the energy to swim even a little. I didn't stay very long, maybe 20 mins, most of my time spent coercing the crabs from all their holes by standing real still... they were adorable.

We went out to lunch at a place called Scuttlebutts, where I had the best version of fish and chips I've ever tasted. Instead of cod they use Mahi Mahi-- my favorite fish. Of course, I also had to make my obligatory visit to their Joann's... where I bought a few nice new additions to my sewing room.

When we got home, I could say the trip did some good. I still can't sleep that long, but its reassured me of the fact I have a wonderful man who tries his very best to uplift me. Perhaps I'm not as alone as my mind would have me feel.

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