Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five out of five stars—would post again!

I am still plugging away at my new humor book, so we're going to revisit another old favorite this week. This was from 2014—TWO YEARS AGO. How in the hell does that happen? Anyway, if you missed it the first time, please enjoy, and if you didn't, I added a whole new bit at the end just for you. 

Sew-Rite 6000 Sewing Machine with Extendo-bed
2 out of 5 Stars
I bought this sewing machine because it was the first item that came up when I did a search for 'bestest sewing machine ever in the history of the universe' so I trusted that I would be getting a good one. It even has a picture of a country music star on the box, so that was another indicator of quality. I was impressed with how lightweight it was—I mean, why do they make stuff so heavy you have to ask a guy to carry it and then you remember you don't have a guy and then you get all depressed and eat donut holes and write One Direction fan fiction until you pass out? That's not really serving the customer. I also appreciated the inclusion of a box of Sharpies for 'personal customization.' I drew Harry Styles giving me a foot rub. All in all, this was a pretty great machine.

However, I am only giving it two stars because the country music singer on the box is sleeping with my Harry and I hate her and I hope she dies in a freak sewing machine accident.

Stitch Master plastic bobbins, pack of 100
1 out of 5 stars



Making Old Quilt Patterns Look Original, by Trudy McQuilterpants
5 out of 5 stars
I was SO excited when my dear, dear friend Trudy sent me a copy of her new book. Since we are such dear, dear friends, I knew this book would be something special. And boy was I right! This book has it all: lots of pictures of quilts draped across sofas, quilt patterns that have been around since time began but are now totally different because they're, like, way bigger and not brown, and writing that doesn't dare to get too interesting. I hope to be famous someday just like Trudy and I totally don't mind that she stole my idea for this book because now I'm sure she'll let me sit by her in our next guild meeting! Call me, Trudy! Love ya!

6.5-inch square acrylic ruler
4 out of 5 stars
This is a great ruler, but I just got a new pattern and I need 4-inch squares. So now I have to buy a new ruler. They should come in a set of ALL the sizes, not just one. Also, does anybody know where to get purse-shaped rulers?

Blankets-n-Bulges 2015 Calendar
1 out of 5 stars

A Quilt to Remember, by Lavinia Havisham-Toshington
2 out of 5 stars
Perhaps Miss Havisham-Toshington is unaware of the long, long tradition of quilt-related fiction into which her novel falls, but someone needs to inform her that in this tradition, people simply do NOT do naked, dirty things with each other. I purchased this novel assuming, as anyone would, that I would be reading yet another wholesome account of how a quilt brought together a community or a family and that my heart would be warmed by a tender account of friendship and potluck suppers. Instead, the only thing warmed was an unmentionable place and I feel violated. I did not appreciate being subjected to several long chapters devoted to extremely energetic couplings between Lance, the gorgeous ne'er-do-well farm hand with a shady past, and Sasha, the beautiful eldest daughter of a cruel man who inherits the family farm and vows to show her father that she can grow corn and milk cows and save the land from foreclosure while lusting after a man she knows she shouldn't want but does anyway. The only reason there's a quilt in the title is because there's an old one in the barn and they keep explicitly fornicating on it instead of quietly going into a bedroom after getting married and then not talking about it like normal people. I had to buy the entire series just to see if they were all as bad and they certainly are. In fact, I have to keep reading them over and over because I honestly can't believe people like this stuff and maybe I'm missing some redeeming aspect of the story, but it's all just bosoms and buns and hay bales. I would have given this zero stars, but I imagine some of those "modern" quilters might like this.

Grip-Tite Finger Covers for Free Motion Quilting
3 out of 5 stars
To be honest, I bought these without really looking at the picture because they were recommended by someone at my guild, who shall remain nameless. (DONNA.) All she said was they were grippy things that go on your fingers to help you hold on to the quilt, but she failed to mention that they are actually super-short condoms. I mean, they don't have a reservoir tip or anything, but they are basically rainjackets for cocktail weenies. I have no idea whether they grip as advertised, because frankly I can't get past my hands looking like some sort of phallic bouquet. And I probably shouldn't mention this, but I threw them in the garbage can and my husband, Chet, found them and accused me of having an affair with our neighbor, Tom, and I can't quite figure out why he singled out Tom but I'm guessing it might have something to do with the size of Tom's, um, tool—and now that I possibly know this I can't face him but he's always out watering his tomatoes and so I can never leave the house again. Plus, HOW WOULD CHET KNOW? So, I'm sure this is a fine product, but I'm docking two stars because I'm pretty sure a quilting notion shouldn't make you question your life choices.


You can read a whole book of my humor columns from my years at Quilter's Home and Generation Q magazines, Quilting Isn't Funny. Get a signed copy or a PDF here or order from Amazon (paperback and Kindle editions available.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Make The Thing


Kind of a weird thing.


I think.

See, last week, I picked up this book:

I bought it because I really wanted the squirrel pattern you can see in the top left corner of the cover, designed by Jennifer Dick, one of my favorite pattern designers. I already have a pretty comprehensive book on appliqué, and I've done just about every method there is, with varying degrees of success.  I have always preferred hand appliqué, whether needle-turn or edges turned over a template. I liked the way, with thin thread and tiny stitches, you can make the shapes and designs almost invisibly attached to the fabric. Fusible appliqué always felt like cheating, yet I would occasionally see pieces that use it to pretty great effect. Then I'd try it again, and I'd hate it.

But for some reason, the projects in this book that used fusible just...spoke to me. In particular, Casey York has a broderie perse quilt with a wreath of flowers that is pretty stunning. (Broderie perse is a form of appliqué where you cut out the printed motifs from a piece of fabric and then stitch them to another piece. If there is enough background fabric around the motif, you can cut a seam allowace around it and then turn the edges under and hand sew. Or, you can cut right along the edge of the motif and use fusible.) There was also a spotlight on Bari J. Ackerman, and it showed a gorgeous broderie perse pillow she made, where the motifs were all layered on top of one another like a collage, with free motion quilting highlighting the shapes. I don't know why, but something went off in my head when I saw these. (SOMETHING'S BEEN OFF IN YOUR HEAD A LONG TIME, HONEY) I had an idea, and more than enough fabric to try it, and I also had drugs.

Pretty much the same day I got the book, I threw my back out. As far as I know, the two events were not related, but who can say? So my doc loaded me up on painkillers and muscle relaxers for a few days, and I really had nothing to do and yet a bizarre ability to focus on something exacting. That part may have been from the steroid. In any case, despite the fact that I once ruminated (HA) on the proliferation of deer fabrics in Quiltland, one particular deer fabric was special to me and I happened to have a LOT of it:

In all three colorways, natch.

So, I had a vision of these deer heads, but I didn't realize until I started cutting just how complex their design is. So, I simplified it and removed the parts that were simply too small to cut:

Once I had several of these, I started arranging them in a circle. It took a lot of trial and error to find the right number and size.

Then I wanted to see if I could add more. I chose the red/pink colorway and added those. Then there was the fun process of transferring what I had done by pinning on foamcore board to fabric, but with drawign lots of lines and guides with a handy blue pen, I got it perfect and ironed it all down.:

(And I'm going to pause here and say that Pelon 805/Wonder Under is the shit. It's really nice and flexible and easy to use.)

Once I had it on the background fabric, I had to quilt it. I pretty much punted on the background and just did a small stipple. I was afraid with my back and shoulder problems, I wouldn't be able to do even that, but it turns out I can handle small pieces fine, just not full quilts. Then I went over each dear head with free motion as well, but just along the edges to keep everything secure and to give the heads a little pop:

The binding is another Tula print from the same collection, though it may just look black here.

It was so incredibly satisfying to work on this, to see what was in my head coming into being. It's far from perfect of course, and definitely strange. But it's mine and I love it.

I think.

Now I have a whole bolt of Wonder Under and a pair of easy-on-the-hands spring-loaded scissors, and I'm ready to try more things. Sometimes, when you get a thing in your head, you just have to make the thing. Even if you're not quite sure of the thing when you're done. But if you have a thought, and you have the tools, the answer is always: Make The Thing. It may not be a masterpiece, but it just may be the first step towards one.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Happy Frothy-Blevinth to Me!

Tomorrow (Friday) is my 47th birthday, and it feels a little weird because I somehow thought I had turned 47 last year and would now be 48, but in reality I am turning the age I thought I was for an entire year and that seems anticlimactic. But whatevs—happy forty-somethingth birthday to me!

The other major milestone I have reached recently is 1000 followers on Instagram. I KNOW, RIGHT? I can tell by your eye rolls you are totally impressed. And why wouldn't you be? One thousand IG followers is...well...OK, it's pathetic, frankly. There are quilters who mainly post pics of their cats shedding all over something vaguely quilty and they have a billion and six followers, so I'm clearly not trying very hard, or I am trying really hard and totally sucking at it. One of those.

But I don't care! I want to celebrate it anyway, because 1000 is such a nice round number, and because I like to exaggerate my accomplishments whenever possible to shore up my self-esteem. If you are on Instagram, and want to follow along with the incredible festivities, you can find me by searching for @thebitchystitcher or go here: or click on the INSTAGRAM rectangle over on the upper right of the sidebar here on the blog. (You still have to follow me once you get there; just clicking the link doesn't do it.) Starting on Friday, August 12—the day I turn frothy-blevin and a half, or something—I will start 5 days of photo challenges. It will start on Friday, take the weekend off—because I will undoubtedly be too busy being smothered with cake and presents to bother with social media—and resume Monday through Thursday.

Each day will have a new photo challenge. If you post a picture based on the challenge, hashtag it with the tag provided for that day. You will need to check my IG feed each morning to get the new challenge and the new tag. Each time you post a new picture, you get an entry to win a prize at the end of the contest. People who participate in ALL FIVE challenges get 5 extra entries on top of however many they already have. The challenges are fairly simple and straightforward, but if you also make me laugh with your entry or your caption, you get an extra entry as well.

So, what am I making you do all this super hard work to potentially win?

Fabric, natch. You will get a giant fat quarter tower of Sunnyside by Kate Spain:

AND—because I love you all so much—you will get a genuine Mark B. heat-activated, ironing board cover:

I KNOW, RIGHT? I can tell by your eye rolls you are totally impressed. Mark B's little pelvic drape there magically disappears when you iron over it. If you really need to see what's under it, you can go here for a nice close-up. (I have no idea if any of the links on that page still work - that post is from 2011!!).

In addition to the fabric and the magic ironing board cover, I will include anything else I come across here in my sewing room that will fit in the box. Might be more fabric, chocolate, some Post-Its - who knows!

Now, I have to limit this to U.S. only. I'M SORRY, YOU GUYS. Postage for a package like this to the great beyond is just more than I can afford, and it's not because I don't love you or that I am just cheap. I'm guessing this will require a medium flat rate box at best and that is $75 to ship to Australia. SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. I might as well just fly it over in a private jet. Sheesh.

So, to recap, here is the contest:
1. Follow me on IG: @thebitchystitcher  You must be a follower to enter.
2. Check my IG feed on these days:

  • Friday, August 12
  • Monday, August, 15
  • Tuesday, August 16
  • Wednesday, August 17
  • Thursday, August 18

On those days, I will post (on Instagram) the new challenge and the hashtag. Post a picture (ON INSTAGRAM) according to the challenge and use the hashtag. Each picture is one entry. Post as many as you wish, as long as they meet the challenge and include the hashtag.
3. Anyone who posts for all five challenges gets five extra entries.
4. Anyone who makes me laugh gets an extra entry.
5. Reposting is fine to let people know, but does not get you anything.
6. Open to U.S. residents only or to anyone who happens to have some kind of U.S. mail drop.
7. Winner will be announced as soon as possible after Thursday. It may take some time to properly tally the entries but I'll announce as soon as I can.

And don't worry, non-Instagram-using people. I will have more fun for you here on the blog and on Facebook this fall.

Friday, August 5, 2016


A few days ago, the powers that be at The Modern Quilt Guild decided to school the troops about copyright and derivation and inspiration, and it's becoming a big mess as people are trying to decide whether to be insulted or pleased. I have many thoughts about the post, which are complicated and not amusing in the slightest, and which, frankly, bore me to tears just thinking about. So, I'm gonna just stay over here in my pillow bunker and do my thing and ignore the drama. But in case you missed it the first time, here is my ode to clubs, groups, cliques and movements:

I believe that we are on the verge of a new movement in quilting, a revolution in the way we think about and construct quilts, and this movement is growing, ready to burst forth and take over the quilting world. As a pioneer of this movement, I feel it is necessary to define what this movement is and place all kinds of legal restraints on the name of it so I can start suing anybody who tries to horn in on my completely new and original movement. I also plan to say ”movement” a lot.

I’m talking about, of course, Traditional neo retro post-industrialist modern punk quilting, or TNRPIMPQ for short.

TNRPIMPQ began in the streets of Hoboken and the backyard of a modest rancher in Tuscon. It was essentially a reaction to the reactions to modern quilting which all went, “So what? I’ve been making ‘wonky’ blocks ever since I had that unfortunate power drill injury back in ’92 but no one ever called my quilts a movement.” This made many quilters roll their eyes and reach for the tequila, but others responded by trying to get all academic and shit and this made the tequila drinking eye rollers huddle up in dark corners muttering about wanting to be left alone to quilt in peace.

These eye-rolling, tequila-drinking, huddle-muttering quilters began to slowly organize, though they were still considered an underground movement since none of them got quilts accepted into QuiltCon. And when I say, “organize,” what I mean is, “not give a good goddamn.” Several leaders in the movement briefly considered starting up, at the very least, a Facebook page where quilters could frankly not give a shit together, but then realized that someone would have to make up a rule or two and that this would quickly turn into fascism. The Facebook idea was scrapped, and while some members went back to bitching in private, others kept up a campaign of loud, vocal apathy.

Splinter groups quickly formed as some quilters professed a firm belief in “doing it right” and others espoused a more relaxed philosophy of “if it doesn’t fall apart when you breathe on it, it’s good.” This led to the Great Hissy Fit of 2013, but the many ruffled feathers were smoothed over when it became clear that even American Quilter magazine was being taken over by Kona solids.

Then, in 2014, as more people started to realize that arbitrary rules made up by a very small number of self-appointed people were extremely restrictive and that bitch-slapping each other over the internet about whose quilts followed those rules was rather childish, membership of TNRPIMPQ began to surge, except nobody actually knew they were a member because I hadn’t told them so yet. As of right now I am guessing there are at least 10 or 12 of us, and if that isn’t a movement, I don’t know what is.

In order for a quilt to fall under the aegis of the TNRPIMPQ movement, it must:

-       be made of fabric
-       and thread
-       batting should maybe be in there somewhere too
-       be your own design
-       or someone else’s
-       have a coherent composition
-       or look like it came out of a meat grinder
-       use lots of negative space
-       or lots of positive space
-       or no space whatsoever, if you can wrap your head around that
-       be used on a bed
-       or a couch
-       or a dog crate liner
-       or as a wall hanging
-       or whatever the hell you goddamn want
-       seriously, mop the floor with it if you want, it’s still a quilt
-       be utterly free from any expectation or limitation except what you put on it yourself

And it must, without question, make YOU happy.

But if it also has an octopus on it, then it’s extra-TNRPIMPQ-y. Because I said so.