Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And don't drink and blog either. Your spelling gets all crummy.

As usual, the only person in this joint who has plans for New Year's Eve is our 5-year-old daughter. She is off to a sleepover at a friend's house, where she will be able to stay up late and blow party horns and eat popcorn to her heart's content. If we are very, very lucky, her daddy and I will hit a Redbox on the way home so we can watch a movie as soon as the little one goes to bed, allowing us to have some grown-up entertainment before we pass out from routine exhaustion at 10:30.

Once upon a time, pre-children, we would have spent the evening with a few friends, making a huge meal, playing board games, and getting more and more toasted until midnight. There are a number of reasons we don't do this anymore, children being only one of them. Many of those friends have moved on from us, or we from them - depending on how you look at it - and at least one of them is slowly, but surely killing himself with alcohol.

I joke a lot about drinking and getting drunk, and I have certainly tied one on a time or two, but in the last 5 or 6 years, I have hardly tilted back a glass at all, and I cannot even remember what it is like to be truly inebriated. Maybe once a month, my husband and I remember that we have some rather tasty beer way in the back of the fridge, and if we decide to have one, we have one - which we share. And I never finish mine.

This is partly because too much alcohol can trigger one of my massive headaches, but this is usually avoided if I drink as much water as liquor - though it keeps me in the bathroom during all the fun stuff. And any kind of a hangover when you have to get up at 6:30 am and keep two kids entertained for the rest of the day is just too much of a handicap.

But, frankly, getting a good buzz on has just lost a lot of its appeal for me. A few years ago, I had to cut off ties with an old friend because his drinking had gotten out of control. There was a time when I thought my job was to try to help him, then another friend revealed to me that she was a recovering alcoholic, 16 years sober, and she explained a lot to me. Suffice to say, if you have a friend who is drowning in alcohol, you cannot fix him. You can only "raise the bottom" by walking away and saying, "I cannot have you in my life until you are sober." And I did this, and it hurt like hell, and I questioned what I did for a long, long time.

Then, later, he truly hit bottom. He drank so much that his organs began to shut down. He was hospitalized, and each day the doctors told him he might not make it to the next morning. And each day, he kept making it to the next morning anyway. Eventually he was released into hospice, which required him to start AA, and for the next three years he was sober.

But it didn't stick. My friend who is a police officer in the town where he lives, and who knows him as well, responded to a call last night, and found him on his sofa, wasting away, drunk and despairing. He was in such a bad state, he had to be hospitalized for a psych evaluation as well as for medical reasons. I don't know yet what has become of him. I'm scared to find out.

So, if you're gonna party 'til you puke tonight, please have a designated driver or take a taxi or stay home. I've lost more than one person to alcohol, and I don't want to lose any more.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's quilted...for extra softness

Whoo! Christmas week is finally over and life returns to semi-normality. Husband-man was home all week, and thank god because as soon as the week started I got knocked down by another 4-day migraine (yep, Christmas day too). So he spent his week playing mommy while I lay in a dark room moaning and contemplating the mechanics of self-induced head removal. I met with my new boss on Monday (just before the migraine hit - quite possibly a sign from the universe that I just did something dumb by taking this job) and realized that I was gonna be needing me a part-time nanny toot sweet (that's French for "right the fuck now"). Placed an ad on Craigslist on Wednesday, interviewed candidates over the weekend, hired one last night - and she starts tomorrow. I love the internet. Of course, the new job brings in just enough money to pay for the new sitter with very little left over, but the whole point of this endeavor is to give me a break from the 24/7 job of being a mommy for at least a few hours a week. Mama loves her babies but Mama needs a leeetle more intellectual stimulation in her life or she is going to keel over from brain atrophy.

So, today, while Itty Bit was napping, and in between Biggie Bit's requests for snacks, drinks, and entertainment, I finally finished the damn scarf I'd been wanting to make. I can't even remember now where I had seen a quilted scarf and thought, "Hey, I could totally do that!" But see one I did, and in one of those fits I get where I buy a whole shitload of something, thinking it's going to be the perfect thing - and such a bargain! - I bought a ton of sweatshirt fleece on Etsy. Then I started cutting up a bunch of fat quarters, sewed them together, and sewed them to a long strip of the sweatshirt fleece. Once I turned it inside out, I figured I'd just topstitch around the edge of the whole thing, but then I thought that even that wouldn't really be enough to keep it from rolling and getting out of shape, so I decided to stitch each rectangle individually. I even had a moment of clarity and used pink thread for the top and white thread in the bobbin. It then occurred to me that this was kinda, sorta, almost quilting. And that was a lovely thought, no matter how glorified it actually was.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday baby girl

Mama finally finished binding your quilt in time for your birthday. She lost a lot of blood doing it, and is now legally blind - but don't you worry your cute little head about that. Mama loves you and doesn't mind suffering for you at all.

Friday, December 12, 2008 guys!

As many of you know, I'm kinda new at this whole blogging thing - as new at it as I am at sewing, actually, since I started doing them at roughly the same time. And, as you may recall, a few months ago, a lovely reader (who, I am sure, has impeccable taste in all other matters) generously gave me the Primitive Excellence Award, which you can see at the column to the right.

And since I went on from there and invented the Ugly Mug Award and promptly offended many, many people, I figured that was the end of blog awards for me. But, no - for today I have received the Kreativ Blogger Award. TWICE!

The wonderful Karen from the great state of Indiana and the divine Grace from I don't know where, but I'm gonna guess somewhere down under because she emailed me at like 3 a.m. this morning and uses the word "mum" for mom, both have kindly passed this honor on to me. Wanna see it?

Now, I made fun of my Primitive Excellence award, since it was clearly intended to honor those who sew in the primitive style, whereas I sew like my people just discovered fire. And I certainly do not wish to offend the wonderful, lovely, talented, and just gosh-darn sweet ladies who decided I was worthy of being awarded something, but...

Didja notice it's spelled KREATIV???? And I'm an EDITOR??? Are you TRYING to kill me??? I love you girls, I really do, but, goddamn, I get twitchy just looking at that word.

I am supposed to pass this on to 5 people, and I suspect all 5 have probably been awarded with this before, but here goes:

Vicky W. from Field Trips in Fiber - because she has awesome glasses, is absurdly talented, and posts a great weekly list of great things to check out in other blogs.

jen from Haphazard Thoughts - because she is just starting out on this whole sewing/blogging thing like I am and I want her to keep it up. I'm convinced that blogging about sewing has really helped me keep on sewing.

Kate from KateKwiltz - because she called her kitty a "spiteful little shit" (and because she's, you know, cool and talented and helped me pluck up the courage to say "no way" to the crazy party - thanks, Kate).

Kathy from Kathy's Quilts - because she makes lovely quilts, and has the ultimate good fortune to hail from Coon Rapids, MN. I just imagine all these people shooting down rivers flowing with raccoons.

And Joyce from J's Quilting Blog - because her work is uniquely her own, in a way I would like my own to be someday.

You know the drill - pass it on to 5 people.

(Oh, and BTW - I kicked MAJOR ASS in that interview this afternoon.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008


So sorry for the spotty posting lately. I was recently contacted by an old friend - by her husband actually. She and I were once the closest of friends, like sisters, but things deteriorated after my first child was born. It's a long story,one I'm sorely tempted to recount here, but I won't bore you. Suffice to say it ends with me actually performing her wedding ceremony, only to be completely ignored by her at the reception, and later, as we were planning a baby shower for a friend, her statement that she was having a lot of trouble mustering up more enthusiasm for other people's babies (my second child was only a few months old at that point). Add to that a lot of insane drama that I put up with because I loved her, but which, ultimately, was too much to deal with. And, oh Lord, there's so much more than even that. 10 years worth. I had to break away, for my own sanity.

And now she and her husband have just purchased their first home and they want me to come to a housewarming party. A party that will be full of the crazy, drug-taking, alcoholics whose company she ultimately decided she preferred to mine. And he tells me that "it would mean so much to us both" if I came.

I do miss her. I miss her sense of humor and her intelligence, and how we understood each other so well in so many ways. I don't miss the irrationality, the constant hypocrisy, the incessant drinking. I know that I am truly happier without her - and yet I ache to have a friend like that again.

Anyway, this has all been clouding my mind lately, pushing aside the thoughts I should be using on quilts and handbags and other happy projects. Fortunately, there is a Harry Potter marathon on TV today, and I can occasionally lose myself in the story. The friendships those stories portray - those are magical creatures. I wish such things were possible in real life.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Flash o'stash

I've got nothing to report yet on the job (and thanks, everyone, for all the good wishes) and no projects in the works that I haven't already gone over, so here are some pictures of my latest fabric acquisitions (which I purchased anyway, even though I bought fish, too).

Got some half-yards on sale from Sew Thankful.

And got this jumbo jelly roll (64 strips) off eBay. I have no idea what the fabric is, but surely I could make something fun and colorful out of it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Woo hoo!

I have been chosen to compete in the Bonus Round for the fabulous prize of being Assistant Editor of a local magazine!!!! I have until 5 p.m. Friday to edit a rather poorly written article as well as make suggestions for improving and organizing a sidebar which contains extra information on the subject of the article. And the best part is that I am willing to bet cash money that I know the writer of this article - a guy who writes for nearly every rag in these parts and generally sucks as a writer, but he gets articles done fast and a good editor can make his crap work. I've made numerous silk purses out of his sow's ears, so I feel pretty confident that I can do the same thing here.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Helen! This spaz made another quilt!

On Saturday, I took Harper to my favorite fabric store to pick out a border and backing for her quilt, which we finished a few days ago. I think she has become so accustomed to places like Target and Michael's that a normal-sized store seems like it was made just for kids. She asked if it was possible for her to get lost there, and knowing that there were at least three sweet old ladies already cooing over her cuteness who could tell me at any moment where she was, I said no it wasn't possible and let her roam around the store on her own. I used my considerable influence to nudge her towards a particular batik I thought would make a good border, and gave her free rein to pick the backing.

Not bad, huh? I'm definitely willing to rethink my position on scrappy quilts if they can end up looking like this.

This will be the backing:

Naturally, she picked a stripe, knowing full well Mommy has a CONDITION, which prevents her from doing anything in a straight line. And the first two quilts I made were small enough that a yard of fabric, uncut, was just enough for the backing, but this one is bigger, and I ended up using more of that border fabric to get enough width.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me that when sewing any length greater than a few inches, that I just have to constantly wrestle with the fabric to keep it in line. I guess I somehow had the notion that, sure, long ago when sewing machines were made of wood and had to be powered by mule teams, one would have to struggle to keep things running smoothly. But now, in the modern age, I figured these newfangled devices would pretty much sew a straight line on their own, and that I would be acting in more of a supervisory position. Clearly, I was somewhat incorrect on that point.

I am now utterly fascinated by batiks and am starting to collect a few in blues, purples and greens so that I can make this:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And the winner of the (coveted) charm pack is...

...Lurking Linda! Congratulations, Linda - and be sure to email me your address so I can send them off to you (email is harperland at mac dot com).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. You will all be in my obligatory list of things I am thankful for, and when Grandma asks what a "blog" is, I will tell her that it's a place where people can go say really bad words and God can't hear them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grandma might not get it, though

I'm thinking of using these for my Christmas cards this year:

Card 1

Card 2

(Oh, and I'll be home for Thanksgiving, but I'll be in the kitchen all day tomorrow. I'll try to announce the winner of the charm squares before noon, if I can.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Someday, she'll be as mediocre as her mommy

My 5-year-old daughter, Harper, is still in that blessedly cute stage of childhood where she thinks everything Mommy does is beyond cool. She even assumes that all the foods she eats have been somehow magically made by me ("I really love your Sun Chips, Mommy.") So, naturally she's been fascinated by all the sewing and has been begging to "help" me make something.

So last week we got out a bunch of Kaffe Fassett charm squares that I had purchased on eBay back when I started this whole sewing thing and was still trying to figure out how to handle the fabric end of things. Should I buy yardage and cut it myself (not a great option, considering my rather, um, challenged rotary cutting skills) or just rely on charm packs, limiting the patterns I can use but at least more likely to be cut in actual squares and not some weird rhomboid shapes. Of course, like with the fish or fabric question, I've ended up doing both.

But the thing about these squares was that when I got them they reeked of smoke, and sure enough, I checked the listing and waaaaaaay down at the bottom, in the teensiest letters it said We do use and enjoy our fireplace during the winter months. Now, I'm no expert on fireplaces, having never had one, but I'm pretty sure the smoke is not supposed to go wafting into the fabric storage area. Which leads me to assume that either this lady has some serious flue issues or she is storing her fabric in the chimney.

The only way I could use the squares was to wash them first, and if I were some sort of magical fairy I would have hand washed them, but I am merely mortal and had to use the washing machine. In my defense I put them in a lingerie bag (which is funny because I don't actually own any lingerie but I have a bag to wash some in should I ever get frisky and go buy some) and set the washer on "delicate." Nevertheless, they came out all frayed and I didn't think they were going to be useable - until Harper spied them in the scraps box.

The squares are all different sizes now because of the fraying, but Harper has no freaky neuroses about things lining up, so we just sewed away without thinking too hard. She has been choosing the order and orientation of the squares and I do the sewing. I think it's going to be my favorite quilt so far.

From The Bitchy Stitcher

From The Bitchy Stitcher

From The Bitchy Stitcher

From The Bitchy Stitcher

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fish or Fabric?

Before I began sewing, my main hobby was freshwater aquariums. At one point, I had 7 aquariums in various rooms of our house. My daughter complains because fish are soooo boring, but of course she is too young to understand that THAT'S THE POINT. There's no drama with fish: no barking in the middle of the night, no peeing all over your clothes, no standing on your chest as you lie in bed early in the morning and biting your nose as soon as you wake up in order to say, "Bitch, get up and make me some Fancy Feast." (God, I loved that cat. He came to live with me just after I graduated from college, and he was the best cat EVER. He liked to play tag, loved tummy rubs and tortilla chips, and always refused to eat alone. He was my best buddy, until I decided to move in with that damn cello player and his roommate, who also had a cat. The roommate thought that T.J. ought to be able to roam free, though I felt he should be an indoor cat - and, of course, my boy got hit by a car.)

Moving to our new house was too stressful for most of my fish, and now I only have 3 tanks set up, with only one tank containing a handful of fish. So I've been perusing the fish books and many online sites which sell fish, and I really, really just want to blow a wad of cash on some lovely little swimmers, but then I'll have no money leftover for fabric this month.

Part of the problem is that there are so few convenient places nearby to buy fish. Let me rephrase that: there are so few places to buy fish where the sales staff aren't total douchebags. That's one thing you can say about quilt shops: not a lot of douchebags there. ("What pretty fabrics you're getting. I wonder when these came in. Helen? When did we get these? We've had them for eight years? Fancy that. So, what are you making with these? Really? How cute! Helen! She's making patchwork scarves for Christmas gifts! Would you like a cookie, dear? HELEN! WHERE ARE THE COOKIES?")But if I want to buy fish, I have to tackle the snotty 20-something who is trying to avoid me, make him go to the tank and get the fish I want while assuring him that I do indeed know that mollies prefer hard water, and I HAVE hard water, and that's why I'm buying mollies JUST GIMME MY GODDAMN FISH.

There are a number of great places to buy fish online, and the whole douchebag problem is thus solved. Fish can easily survive an overnight trip - but it does have to be guaranteed overnight delivery and therefore you're tacking on like $25-40 more to the cost of the fish. Fabric, on the other hand, is relatively cheap to ship - even using Priority - and there's new stuff out there like this:

and this:

But I miss watching my fish while I write:

Fish-themed fabric won't cut it, nor will sewing up cute stuffed fishies. And there's no good use for fabric in a fish tank.

Perhaps I should dwell on this over some pie.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I cribbed that last line from Bartlett's

It was so, so good to see Barbara today. She is looking great and only has a touch of edema around her right eye. Well, that and a big honkin' dent in the side of her head and a freaky scar, but you can't see those unless she forces you to get close and look and she had me in a headlock as soon as I got in the door. And she can't move her right eyebrow, so whenever she tries to look surprised, she just looks suspicious.

It was supposed to be a day without kids for me, but at the last minute a friend needed me to babysit her 1-year-old, so little baby Bella came along while my girls stayed home with daddy. But that was just fine because she's sweet and a very easy baby and Barb and her partner Chris are NUTS about babies, so Bella had two more devotees by the end of the afternoon.

I'm pleased to say that both Barb and Chris LOVED the pillow, and Barb hugged it much of the time that we were talking.

And it turns out that brain tumors do indeed suck. But hugging old friends is totally fucking awesome.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Surely there's a marketing opportunity here

Back when I was an optician, I worked with a lady named Barbara for about 7 years. Technically, I was her boss, but we were equals in most respects, and we became very close friends very quickly. We never socialized much outside of work, because we were already with each other more than with our respective spouses, but while we were at work we shared a comfortable co-existence. I don't think we ever fought once. And when I decided to leave, we both bawled like little babies on my last day.

We've kept in touch, but I haven't seen her since she left the business earlier this year. Sometime in July I got this email from her:

Hi all old friends,

Passing along this terrible news as I need all the thoughts of good will and prayers you can muster if you choose. In May of this year I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and Chris and I have spent these past few months researching and doctoring and getting many neuro opinions and the outcome is brain surgery which is scheduled 2 wks from now . The most unnerving part of the whole thing is I have no symptoms indicative of a brain tumor and I would never have known had I not had an MRI for hearing loss last April. There was no reason for hearing loss on the MRI but oh, by the way you have a brain tumor. Needless to say, our world has been rocked all summer and I intentionally scheduled the surgery date for after the summer so that we could spend as much time at our beach house in NJ w/all the grands.

Yet the date looms and the wait is grueling and the whole procedure and recovery is god awful and just keep me in your thoughts.Since it is considered a high risk surgery, I do have a very specific wish for no visits at the hospital or at home for at least a week or two until I feel and look better. It is brain surgery after all not a new hip or a hysterectomy or something I'd welcome if you get my meaning.

Chris will be sending out an e-mail to you all after the fact .Thanking you in advance for your good wishes.

She's finally ready for a visit, so I'm heading out to her place on Tuesday to see her. I had just started my teach-myself-to-sew project when I found out about her illness, and I would have liked to have made her a quilt, but I wasn't prepared to take on that kind of project for anyone who wasn't a forgiving family member. And besides, there simply are no good brain tumor-themed fabrics out there.

So yesterday I decided that I could at least make her a pillow, if nothing else. One which expresses all my love for her and my great relief that her surgery was a success and her recovery is nearly complete:

Who needs Hallmark?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The orphan's replacement

It's nothing fancy - but husband LOVES it, and that's what matters, I guess. This is half finished (well the rows are pieced; I just have to sew the rows together) - the other half will mirror this one.

I just wish I could get better pictures in this damn, windowless basement.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Behold - the orphan

A couple people have asked for pictures of the offending Bento Box pieces I've made so far, and I was sure I had posted some when I first started it, but my lazy, cursory glance at my past posts didn't turn up anything. I laid out what I had done thus far, and I know that the blocks would be broken up in a finished quilt and not placed together like this, but it looks even worse trying to do that now with so few blocks and so few colors.

And these are the fabrics I have not yet cut or pieced:

So, red, black, green, and white. Though I have an assortment of fabrics, those are the main colors the sushi prints come in. Do I need more colors? More solids or less busy prints? And for those of you who have done this pattern, how many different fabrics did you ultimately use?

Monday, November 10, 2008

So, the sushi Bento Box quilt is dead in the water. I just couldn't keep up my enthusiasm for it, especially once I realized that the person for whom it was intended (my husband) wasn't crazy about how it was looking. And, frankly, I wasn't either.

Now I'm going to say something here, and it may offend some of you. If you can't handle radical, anarchist quilting opinions, well then just stop reading right here. Ready?

I don't like scrappy quilts.

See, I told you to stop reading, but you didn't listen, and now you're all indignant and going, "Well, I love scrappy quilts - my house is full of scrappy quilts - I was even going to make you a scrappy quilt AND NOW I'LL JUST HAVE TO GIVE IT TO SOME HOBO ON THE STREET." (Well, that's what you would say if you were a member of my immediate family, all of whom take any expression of an opposing opinion as just another way of saying "I hate you, and everything you like is shit.")

Believe me, I am well aware that the entire world loves a scrappy quilt, but I just have some genetic mutation which makes me resist them. The sushi quilt just wasn't cohesive enough, because even though they were all sushi prints, and all had backgrounds in black, white, green, and red, the result was just a mishmash of busy prints. I think I also didn't like that, in creating the strips, the charm of the prints just kind of disappeared. And, see, any other normal person would have still liked it 'cuz it looked all "scrappy" and whatnot. I just had a different aesthetic in mind and when it didn't live up to that vision, I couldn't make myself keep going.

But I'm going to try again, in a different vein. I got 4 of the Moda "Bistro" charm packs, and I've been playing with arrangements on my wall.

I want some arrangement of the blocks that produces some sort of effect with the flow of colors from light to dark, but that may be asking too much of my feeble brain. In the meantime, I'll need to find a use for the squares I made for the sushi quilt. Maybe a tote bag or some square placemats. Pillow covers. Or hankies, to dry my tears of disappointment and despair when I inevitably hate this quilt too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hooray for America. And for not having my head in a toilet.

Lordy, it's been one thing after another here at Chez Bitchy. And the icing on the cake was when I was preparing for our election night party and began barfing. SERIOUSLY. I ended up huddled on the couch, having told the guests not to come, shaking and sipping water, and crying every time Obama won another state.

So, please let me just say that I fucking LOVE my country. I am a witness to history, and I will tell my grandchildren about this day - including the part about the barfing. Because I feel the need to share that with everybody.

Today I am attempting to recover from whatever crawled in my gut and died, but my youngest seems to think that's a self-indulgent way to spend my time. She got all in a twist earlier this morning because she had somehow gotten her arm out of her shirt and wasn't pleased. So she came over to me with her usual words of complaint when she can't make something work the way she wants: "It'th thtuck!" Only she wouldn't let me fix it. She was upset, and wanted help, but wouldn't accept help. And somehow this situation just escalated into the biggest tantrum I have ever seen. She was knocking over chairs, throwing every thing she could get her hands on, and I finally carried her, kicking and screaming, to her room where I thought there were fewer dangers for her. And it just went on and on and on, until finally she was starting to bite things (not me, thank god) and I was getting scared and decided to just leave the room for a minute to check on her older sister. The baby followed me out, still screeching, but by the time we got to the kitchen she saw one of her bottles and asked for one, and she finally quieted down on my lap and we read books and tried to forget what had just happened.

This really shook me up, because I have never seen anything like it before. My older daughter never had tantrums like this - hardly ever had them at all, really - and Devon is usually such a happy little girl. My husband emerged from his home office upstairs after it was all over and I fell apart crying as I told him about it, and he told me a story about some kid he had heard of who used to throw rocks at her parents whenever they told her it was time to leave the playground. "This is all perfectly normal," he said. You weren't there, buddy. SHE WAS GREEN.

Now she and her sister are happily playing with an empty box. But every time she babbles at Harper, I imagine she's saying. "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inching my way back

Well, that was unfortunate. I had a migraine that lasted between 3 and 4 days, and the last day was Monday. My husband couldn't take off work and I had no one to call upon to help me, so I watched over my girls while lying on the couch, ice packs pressed fruitlessly to my cranium, hoping that 14 straight hours of TV wouldn't permanently scar them.

Since then, I've just been trying to catch up on all the things I wasn't able to do for those days - like eat, shower, and not want to die - and the girls have been clinging to each leg as I do them. And if I should try to sit at the computer for 10 or 15 minutes to dash off a quick blog post, the little one grabs my hand and yells, "Pull, pull, PULL!" Which means, "I am pulling on you because you are obviously doing nothing of any real importance and ARE YOU LISTENING? PLAY WITH ME. NOW. DON'T MAKE ME GET OUT THE BOOK THAT MAKES HIDEOUS MUSIC."

So thank you everyone who commented while I was away. I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer anyone back, but I'm sure you understand I couldn't risk having my eyeballs explode.

I'm working on a post that I may or may not decide to publish that is not funny at all, but I swear the potty mouth you come here to read will return soon.

In the meantime, I'll show you my next project. I found this tutorial for making soft baby blocks, and it actually made so much sense that I was able to read it once and then do it without having to refer back to it. I could do these in my sleep now, though I would surely still manage to poke myself in the face with a pin each time (seriously) because no matter how good I get at this (ha) I will never lose my capacity to be a total spaz.

From The Bitchy Stitcher

Monday, October 27, 2008

no tutorial yet

Massive migraine since Saturday morning. May last a few more days. May need to remove my own head to get relief.

I'll get back to regular posting as soon as this ends.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sorry about that

Sorry about that last post. When I found that giveaway, I just had to enter to win it, but it required making that post, and my avarice got the best of me. I can, however, promise that if I ever decide to give away something I've made, I will not require anyone to post anything on their own blog in order to win. Because God knows you'd be getting a half-assed piece of crap that I probably threw across the room several times and possibly even stomped on and, really, I should be begging you to take it off my hands.

And speaking of half-assed pieces of crap - I took myself up on my offer to improve the pattern for that last bag I made. I added a "hidden" pocket, cut all the pieces with a ruler and rotary cutter, and took pictures along the way so that I can offer it up humbly as my first tutorial (well, first real tutorial). I call it the Bitch Bag, and I hope to have it up by the end of the weekend.

I can tell you're just quivering with anticipation. Or is that snickering?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thanks, Melissa!

Melissa over at Cornbreadandbeansquilting has posted her first tutorial today - a super easy wallet/coin purse that even a moron like me can do:

I can attest that no foul language was used in the making of this wallet, so, yay Melissa!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stop me if you've heard this one

Since simple handbags are fun and relatively easy for me to make, I've decided to try a few as Christmas gifts this year. My husband asked me to make one for his mom, and I finally found just the right combination of fabrics for her. I was going to use the same pattern as from the first bags I made, but then I found a pattern in issue of Quilts & Gifts to Give that I picked up on one of my JoAnn runs. Here is the result:

From The Bitchy Stitcher

From The Bitchy Stitcher

Now I realize I may have exhausted this topic before, but it is a freakin' miracle I managed to put that thing together SINCE THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE WRITTEN BY HALF-WITS ON CRACK. They even promise that their team of cracked-out morons has "reviewed the materials lists, how-to directions and illustrations to make sure the information we provide is clear, concise, and complete." And by clear, concise, and complete they mean obtuse, absurd, and seriously fucked up.

They even include a handy pattern to cut out, except they printed it all mashed up to save space. When you are cutting the outside, the pattern is in two pieces because you have two fabrics, see, but for the inside, the lining, you would need to take those two pieces and tape them back together. However, they neglected to mention that part. So, if you follow the directions for cutting the fabrics, you end up with NO LINING. And the pattern for the flap is printed INSIDE one of the other pattern pieces. Sheesh. I hate patterns anyway - I always end up with wonky pieces of fabric with edges that look like they've been gnawed on by gophers or something.

So, I'm thinkin' that this bag could be seriously improved upon by some - oh, I don't know - directions not written by lunatics and could actually be made without a paper pattern. And, if that is the case, and if I were to actually accomplish such a thing, then perhaps I could post my own (real) tutorial. Perhaps. If, you know, anyone would be interested in such a thing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Will sell myself for blog hits

Yesterday at Chez Bitchy was spent carving pumpkins and acquiring a very important white Power Ranger costume for a certain 5-year-old. I had hoped that by teaching myself to sew and immersing myself in the world of crafty blogs, I would finally be in touch with the part of the brain that can create cool Halloween costumes. The last time I had a great idea for a costume, I had neither enough time nor willing participants to execute it. It was to be me and three other girls, festooned with crowns and dresses constructed from feminine hygiene products. We would be Queen Tampax and her lovely daughters Stayfree, Carefree, and Maxine. Trust me, the idea is way funnier when you're 20 years old and stoned (NOT that I would know). But other than that the Halloween fairies have never graced me with another original thought, or even with the gumption to copy something else. I think the last time I dressed up was in eighth grade, and I was still using the black cape and grey wig from my role as the hag the wicked queen turns into from my 3rd grade school production of Snow White. Even now, with the plethora of costumes available for purchase online, the "plus-size" selection is limited to "sexy" pirates and vampires. I'm about as sexy as a mailbox, and just as shapely.

I'm so glad my tutorial has been received so well! I have to admit I've become kind of a whore for blog traffic and I've been obsessively looking at my Feedjit stats over to the right. Feedjit gives you a real-time list of who is on your site, listed by geographic location and how they got there. (Don't worry - it doesn't tell me anything private.) For instance, I can see if someone found me through a link on another site (and thank you everyone who has linked back here after receiving your awards!) or if they got here through a Google search. A couple weeks ago, someone actually searched for "quit job fuck all y'all" on google and this post came up second! See - profanity can be useful - don't let your mama tell you otherwise.

Honestly though, I love seeing your comments and seeing so many new visitors come through here. Every time I see that someone from Norway or Finland or Japan has been here, I imagine them shaking their head and muttering "Americans..." as they quickly click on to something more relevant. But if I can make one Scandinavian, one Pacific Islander laugh at a stupid pot joke - well, then not knowing how to sew worth a damn won't seem quite as pathetic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How To Sew Binding onto a Quilt - A Tutorial for Beginners

1. Wait until the last minute to acquire the fabric for binding your quilt. It is important to have already shown the almost-finished quilt to the child for whom it is intended, so that she will ask you every 5 minutes if it is ready. Realize you are broke and will have to use scraps to make the binding. Tell yourself it doesn't really matter - it's your quilt!

2. Consult a book written by a "professional" that has "pictures" and "tips." Read these directions once then close the book and put it somewhere where you will be sure to forget where it is. Don't be afraid to blame the children for moving it!

3. Cut strips of fabric to the proper width. What is the proper width? Consult the book. Go ahead - we'll wait while you look for it. Don't forget to close it and set it down again.

4. If the book says you can use strips from 2 inches wide to 2.5 inches, go with the smallest size recommended. That way, there'll be no room for error!

5. Lay the strips across each other perpendicularly, then sew from corner to corner. Trim seam to 1/4 inch and press open. Then drop a few f-bombs as you realize you sewed them right side to wrong side. Keep that seam ripper handy!

6. Once you have sewn all the strips together, fold the strip in half and press. Be sure to stand on some of the strip as you are ironing.

7. Pin the open edge of the strip to the raw edge of your quilt on one side. Where should you start? At the corner? In the middle? Consult the book. Wonder aloud why you don't just leave it open to the correct page so you can reference it when needed. When you cannot figure out what to do from the obtuse instructions, close the book and kick it across the room.

8. Start sewing any damn place. Struggle to keep the quilt moving through the machine in a straight line. Wonder if it's possible that the feed dogs on your machine actually move fabric in a circle. Wonder if quilts really need binding. Stop sewing 1/4 inch from the edge. Or less. Or more. Whatever you can manage. Backstitch and pour a cocktail.

9. To create the mitered corner, take the strip of fabric and flip it around aimlessly, trying to remember what you saw in that stupid book, because, god, you really don't want to have to crawl under the table where you kicked it to retrieve it. Look it up on the internet, only to be distracted by those godawful leggings Lindsay Lohan insists on wearing.

10. Get the damn book anyway and study the picture until you are sure you have the angle and flip and whatever thing down. End up with something that looks more like an origami swan. Tell yourself it doesn't matter - it's your quilt!

11. Continue to sew the binding in a meandering line. Pour yourself another cocktail. Since the damn thing looks like you were drunk while you did it, you might as well be drunk while you do it. Viva Cuervo!

12. When you get to the end of the strip, panic - because you have no idea how to join the end to the beginning. Consult the motherfucking book AGAIN. GOD, you hate that book. Read some nonsense about a "tail" and "tucking" and then start giggling as your mind comes up with some really lame dirty jokes. When your 5-year-old daughter asks what you are laughing about, just say "Underpants." It will be partially true and she will totally understand why you would be giggling about it.

13. Thread a really fat needle with some cheap thread. Make a knot at the end roughly as large as your own head. Slipstitch the remaining edge of the binding to the other side of the quilt.

14. What?

15. No, seriously. Slipstitch the binding to the quilt. Yes, by hand. Well, it's not my fault you are 39 and already need bifocals. And I don't EVEN want to hear about your "carpal tunnel" acting up today. Put on your big girl panties and DO IT!

16. Give up after several stitches that can't possibly be right. Consult internet one more time and discover a few helpful videos on You Tube. Realize that you have been straining so hard to see the quilt without proper eyewear, you now cannot see anything smaller than your husband. Ask husband to refresh your drinky-poo.

17. Tell yourself it doesn't matter. It's your quilt! Then topstitch that stupid fucking binding down, give it to your daughter, who is beyond thrilled, and revel in the glory of your first completed quilt!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The package arrived

I found a huge box on my front stoop this afternoon after I put the baby to bed, and immediately ripped it open. My first quilts have been utterly transformed:

The pictures don't really do them justice, particularly since a huge part of the transformation from sloppily sewn quilt tops to actual quilts is the feel of the batting, the pucker of the stitching holding it all together. Every time I touch them I get a little weepy. Of course, I haven't started the binding yet - those will be copious tears, my friends.

But that wasn't all that was in the box. She added other I-work-in-a-quilt-store-and-can-get-stuff-half-price goodies:

AND there was a ruler, some "patchwork" pins, and a thread count estimator. All of which were apparently a late birthday gift.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back to more relevant topics

Last night I received my invitation to use Spoonflower, the website where you can upload your own fabric designs and have them printed on 100% cotton Kona fabric (up to 3 yards). I only signed up a few days ago, so apparently invitations are not that big a deal. I'll have to start practicing how to make repeating patterns in Photoshop, but this tutorial should help with that.

In other news, my sister emailed me to let me know that my quilts are ready! I sent my first two quilts (see here and here) to The Quilter's Attic in Goodlettsville, TN where my sister works to have them machine quilted. I let my sister pick the pattern and the thread color for both, so it will be a surprise when I open the box. They're due to arrive here on Friday, so I'll post pictures then. And then I'll begin whimpering and breaking out in hives because now I'll have to tackle the binding.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trying...not to...celebrate...with....doughnut

If you recall, my weight since I began The Bitchy Stitcher diet and exercise plan has been, shall we say, up and down. Let's review:

Week 1: Lost 2 pounds
Week 2: Lost 2 pounds
Week 3: Gained back all 4 pounds, and on one day, apparently another pound on top of that.

Last week was kind of a rotten week for the Plan. I managed to get to the gym on Monday and Tuesday, but then the anemia fatigue set in and I knew it was unwise to exert myself until I got some energy back. Then I got the baby's cold on top of that, and I was just a miserable sack of poo.

I haven't been back to the gym since I want to really get my iron stores back up first, but my eating has stayed relatively the same. I will admit to a few chocolate chip cookies between meals on a couple days, but otherwise the snacking has been low to non-existent. I've still been kicking back the Dr. Peppers, though, cause I'm not a freakin' masochist.

So, I manage to score a shower this evening (and anyone with young children may understand why I chose to use the word "score." The solitude, the yummy smells getting rid of the yucky ones, SHAVED LEGS - it's as good as a hit off a bong (NOT that I would know) and about as easy for someone like me to come by) and I decide to torture myself on the scale that I never threw in the trash truck. And what does that fucker tell me?

THAT I LOST TWO MORE POUNDS!!!!!. All that weight that I seemed to have gained back is gone, plus two more pounds. I have now gone from 197 to 191.

Please excuse me now while I go do a very embarrassing happy dance.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nothing to do with quilting or sewing or stitching

This made me pee my pants. I love the internet.

Just FYI, the dude on the right is Jed Whedon, brother of Joss Whedon, who created my beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The chick is Jed's girlfriend, Maurissa Tancharoen. Joss and Jed and Maurissa (and Zack Whedon, another brother) together wrote Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which, if you haven't seen it, is the greatest thing to ever happen to an iPod.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'd like to thank my agent, my publicist, and my team of lawyers

Molly from Molly's Place has bestowed the coveted Primitive Excellence Award upon this humble blog! I immediately consulted The Google to find out just exactly what this entails; you know - where the ceremony will be held, when my check arrives, etc. Turns out I made that fitting appointment with Karl Lagerfeld a little too soon, though, truth be told, he sounded a tad relieved when I had to cancel ("Oh zank GOD. I do NOT zink zey MAKE fabreek BEEG enough for - "click).

I actually tried, without success, to find the origins of the (coveted) Primitive Excellence Award. Google was no help - at least in the two minutes I spent searching. If someone receives one, he or she is then obligated to pass the award on to 7 more bloggers and link to those blogs, thus giving publicity to some well-deserving, if little-known, crafter/writers. I figured maybe I could trace an award backwards, link by link, until I found the source, but I'd always get blocked by the inevitable blogger who can't make links, and who just says "Sue gave me an award." Like I know who the hell Sue is.

What I did glean from my research is that the award is supposed to be given to people who are involved in primitive-style arts and crafts, not necessarily people who simply craft as well as a primitive creature would. And since I'm not exactly into the whole primitive scene (though it is a valid lifestyle choice), I'd be hard-pressed to come up with 7 blogs to honor. In fact, I'm so new to this blogging thing, I don't think I could come up with 7 blogs, period.

So, I've decided to create a new award. Something to honor any blogger who crafts, sews, quilts - you know, makes stuff - no matter how crappy (or how good). A way to say - I like your blog, like your stuff, and I'm pretty sure you have a good sense of humor. So, without further ado, I present the (coveted) I Love Your Ugly Mug Award:

Now, all the lovely people whom I have had the pleasure to meet through this humble blog are all very talented and not the least bit ugly, but I am sure they will all take this award in the spirit intended. As with the Primitive Excellence Award, the recipients are compelled to pass it on - BUT you only have to pick 3 people to give it to. And the first I Love Your Ugly Mug Awards go to...

Molly from Molly's Place
Myra from Tactile Pleasures in Fabric
Melissa from Cornbread and Beans Quilting
Kate from KateKwiltz
Linda from Just A Quiet Place to Be
Carol from Love to Quilt

I'll post a smaller size of the pic as well - but remember to pass it on! I'm totally jonesing to start a new blog award trend!

Let me know if you need any help grabbing the pics!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Awesome giveaway

I've been spending my baby's naptime catching up on the blogs of all the lovely people who have posted here, and found that Linda from Just A Quiet Place to Be is doing a giveaway - and she doesn't have any entries yet! So get your butts on over there and leave a comment for your chance to win some cool kids' costume patterns. Deadline is Sunday - so hurry, hurry, hurry!

Tired blood - tired blog

I must apologize for the lackluster posts this week. I am once again dealing with the effects of chronic anemia, and it will be a few days before I feel like myself again.

In the meantime, I'll share with you the onesies I made for my friend's baby. I used some of my sushi fabric on some and made iron-on designs (with the nicknames I use for her) for the rest.

My treasures - part 2

And six months after Devon was born, she received this quilt from her aunt:

This was one of the things I asked for when my parents insisted I tell them what I want when they die. Apparently, they figure there's no reason for me to not have some of them now, so on their last visit Mom brought me this pillow. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when she made it, and it used to sit on our living room sofa. This was during her needlepoint phase, which seemed to end around the time I started high school.

She also made me this sampler sometime while I was in high school. She and I didn't see eye-to-eye on much, but somehow we always came together to watch old movies. One of our favorites was Life With Father, and William Powell's character is always sputtering bombastically in an attempt to control his family. In one scene, in an attempt to impart a lesson and quote scripture, he says, "As the Good Book says, whatsoever ye put thy hand to, do thy doggonedest." This became our motto and an in-joke between us for years.

When my father got out of the army he went to art school on the G.I Bill, and for many years pursued an art career in his spare time. Most of his paintings were created before I was born, and most of those were sold or given away. A few pieces remain at my parent's house, and the older ones are only available to me in some black-and-white photographs.

When my husband and I were married in the backyard of my parent's home, I asked my dad to sketch the gazebo under which the ceremony would be held. We then had it printed on the front of our invitations - and I kept the original.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My treasures

I thought I'd distract myself from my lack of weight loss by showing you some pictures of the handmade things I own which I categorize as Things That I'd Knock Over A Fireman to Save From My Burning House:

This was the first quilt my mother made for me. She gave it to me for Christmas one year shortly after I graduated from college. I remember crying when I opened the box, because she had been quilting for years at this point and had never made me anything. Unfortunately, the fabric is disintegrating and I don't know what I can do, if anything, to save it. This quilt is also from the time when Mom was still hand quilting everything, so that makes it even more valuable to me.

This quilt she made probably 10 or 12 years later at a Mystery Quilt weekend somewhere in Indiana. I received it on the day I returned to work after a 6-week bout with mono, so it's the quilt I turn to whenever I'm feeling the sense of profound fatigue that reminds me of having mono. This one was sent away somewhere to be machine quilted.

These two were made by my husband's grandma and were given to each of our daughters shortly after they were born. We love these and they are our snuggle-on-the-couch quilts.

My sister and I had a very combative relationship while I was growing up (she is 13 years older than me) and by the time I was grown and married and pregnant with my first child, I had pretty much given up on having anything more than a civil relationship with her. Fortunately, she hadn't given up at all. There's a longer story here, but it starts with these - the gifts she made for my oldest daughter which I received at my baby shower:

There's a lot more so I'm going to split this into two posts.