Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Short, Sharp and Snippy

For the last few months, I've been locked in my office/studio/nap pavilion, slaving away over a hot computer to bring you, my dearest darlings, a lovely (I hope) surprise. Some of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know about it already, but even so, allow me to introduce...MY NEW BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bigger! Longer! And (un)cut from the same cloth as my first book, Quilting Isn't Funny. This new volume collects 25 of my signature quilting humor pieces, many appearing in print for the first time. If you've missed anything I've published in the last 5 years, you'll find it here! This book has been a long time coming, and there were plenty of times I wasn't sure it would ever happen. But my goal this year was to get it done by July, because July marks my 10th anniversary writing as The Bitchy Stitcher. TEN YEARS.


I am now taking pre-orders for SIGNED copies at a special price. When the book is available on Amazon, the list price will be $14.99, (and there will be no lovingly applied purple-ink signature) but if you take advantage of pre-order pricing you get it for $11.99 plus $3.00 media mail shipping in the U.S.. When you place this in your cart, please make note of the shipping options—if you are in Canada or any other country outside the U.S., there are options for you to cover the cost of shipping. SHIPPING OUTSIDE THE U.S. IS HELLA PRICEY and there is, unfortunately, nothing I can do to make this cheaper. Please note that the book will be available on Amazon in many countries and will also be available for Kindle, so there are cheaper options—just not ones that involve my signature.

I hope to ship as many pre-orders as possible by July 1. Keep in mind I will keep pre-orders open until June 26, so later orders may ship just a bit later. 

And for those of you who never got a copy of my first book, Quilting Isn't Funny, I also have a pre-order listing that gets you BOTH books at an even better price. If you order both together, each book is $10.00 plus the same $3.00 shipping in the U.S. (shipping is included in the listed price in the shop).

Pre-orders will also be available soon on Amazon for the Kindle version (the paperback listing on Amazon says "out of print" but it's not—I just haven't made it fully available yet.). The Kindle pre-order was submitted today and should go live within 72 hours.

Also, starting on July 1, I will make a PDF version available for less than the Kindle price. SO MANY OPTIONS.

With this book, I do not have the networks in place that I had when I published my first one. I am no longer working for a magazine (hell, that magazine is gone and so many others are shutting down, it's crazy), and I just do not have the industry contacts I had when I was an actual part of the industry. So, I'm going to ask you all a HUGE favor. Whenever you see links to the book on social media PLEASE share if you can, at least once. I'll be promoting it as much as I feel comfortable with (so, not as much as I should) and the more eyes I can get on it the better. There won't be a blog tour, since I know almost no one who keeps up their blog anymore, so social media marketing is the only way I have to advertise this book. THANK YOU.

It must also be said, if you are a quilt shop and would like to carry either of my books, email me for wholesale prices.

So, to reiterate and hopefully make it easier:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Letters...I get letters...

My email inbox has been a fun place lately. Back when I first started this bloggy-poo, most of the email I used to get was along the lines of "please stop cursing" or "OH MY GOD WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE" or penises (y'all are laying down on the penis emailing job lately, let me just say) but now it's mostly these weird hit-or-miss mass emails that are meant to look as though they have chosen me and me alone among all the bloggers out there to offer up a Special Opportunity.

It started some months ago when I got this email:

Naturally, I began planning both my course and my on-camera wardrobe, since this was clearly my ticket to Fame and Filthy Lucre. To be honest, I struggled with what to teach, finally settling on "How to Make 8 Million Bags and Have Something Massively Wrong With Every Single One of Them," since it's what I do best, but the wardrobe was a no-brainer: slightly too-small t-shirts with Harry Potter themes and baggy yoga pants. Because that's all I actually own. Perhaps they would include a trip to the famous Ft. Lauderdale Fashion Bug Plus as part of my on-site compensation.

But after the heady initial thrill of being a World Famous Quilting Teacher wore off, I realized that doing this would in fact violate my personal policy of never getting up in front of a group of people ever again, even if that "group" consisted only of Harry the producer and his able cameraman, Stu. (Cameramen are always named Stu.) 

Also, I don't teach quilting; I write fart jokes that are quilting-adjacent. Slight difference.

And so, with a rueful sigh, I declined Harry's kind but honestly sort of sketchy offer.

My next email was, if you can believe it, even more exciting. 

THEY ARE REALLY DIGGING MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL YOU GUYS. Of course, I don't have one, but they are clearly digging my potential channel that could exist in an alternate universe where I am not an anti-social, menopausal woman whose "style" consists of wearing all black not because it's slimming but because I'm too lazy to coordinate separates. 

Also, this is obviously NOT the brainchild of some 23-year-old living in his mom's basement who has learned about drop shipping crap from China and making it look like "luxury" goods curated by "travel buddies." Nope, definitely not. 

And the best part was that I would only have to buy something to start! At a whopping 50% discount! (See, if you mark up cheap crap by 600% you can sell it for "50% off" and still make an obscene profit! That's called good business.) 

Sadly, after my last Zulily purchase, I was all tapped out on my "stuff that looks nothing like the picture and is most likely made from petroleum byproducts" budget, so I had to decline their kind but honestly sort of stupid offer.

Then, the Big Boys decided they wanted to play:

I've gone from Instructor, to Partner, to INFLUENCER! For Amazon, no less! Never mind that this is just the Amazon Affiliate program with a fancy name that makes it sound like we're going to rub elbows with Hadids and Kardashians, and never mind that I got kicked out of the Amazon Affiliate program because I never actually sold anything (nor did I try). This is my opportunity to influence my readers to give their hard-earned money to a giant corporation that doesn't actually need the meager profits generated by a quilt-fart blogger with a questionable wardrobe. I mean, who doesn't want to have that kind of influence?

Well, me, apparently. I did not exactly decline their kind but frankly stupid offer; I just kinda ignored it.

Things were quiet for a while. I thought perhaps my instructing, partnering, influencing days were all behind me. But then I got THIS:

Did I write about cars in August of 2010? See for yourself. I wrote an entire freaking blog post about how my period was late and related this to some recent car troubles:

I just don't think it's healthy for a 41-year-old out-of-shape woman with high blood pressure and questionable emotional stability to have a pregnancy scare, no matter how unlikely. But it does make me consider the fact that my car troubles were entirely due to the fact that I hadn't changed my oil in over a year, and thus wonder if I've done something equally as stupid with my own body that is preventing the arrival of the Ketchup Monster. Or perhaps my own oil refuses to change in some sort of twisted solidarity with my car. Next it'll be wanting its spark pistons re-bored or something.

Naturally, this—EIGHT YEARS LATER—means that I will now be shifting the topic of this blog from quiltin' and fartin' to car stuff. Clearly, however, cars are not my forté, so thank goodness Catherine is on the case. Am I taking pitches? OH FUCK YES I'M TAKING PITCHES. But not from Catherine. I don't know her and in her second email she mysteriously turned into a "we". 

Clearly, "Catherine Metcalf" is actually "The Mafia." I'm on to you, Cat. I must decline your kind but possibly murderous offer. 

But I WILL accept pitches from you, dear readers. Send me your best pitches for car-quilt-fart-influencing-instruction-partner articles and I will send the best one a small wristlet bag hand-made by me. Not this one, but one like it, in fabrics of my choosing.

Good luck, and may the Influencer Be Ever In Your Partnership Program.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How Pickles Make Quilting All Better

(Author's note: Okay, so yesterday on my Facebook page I asked for suggestions of topics to write about, because I had promised to write more but I could not think of anything worthy of an entire blog post. Alert reader Teri suggested, and I quote her exactly: how pickles make quilting all better. Here you go, Teri. There were some other great suggestions and you'll see more of them here soon.)

Self-care is so important, isn’t it? In the words of our greatest American citizen, RuPaul, how can you love anyone else if you don’t love yourself? And loving yourself requires taking care of yourself, and taking care of yourself requires not getting your panties in a twist over some tiny little problem that isn’t even important in the grand scheme of things anyway. 

But when you are a quilter, your entire existence can be a series of tiny little problems that, added together, become one big problem and now you have an entire row in your guild group quilt that is a WHOLE FOOT shorter than the rest because somebody keeps eyeballing her quarter inch seam and no we can’t just tack on some extra fabric at the end, Donna; we may be modern but we’re not savages.

So yes, it can be very easy to get your knickers in a wad over many things in quilting, but there is a solution. No, I mean a literal solution of vinegar and water and salt and spices and maybe sugar if you’re feeling frisky.  I’m talking about, of course, pickles.

That’s right, I said pickles. The ancient and venerable arts of pickling and quilting have seen a huge resurgence in recent years, but it is not widely known that the two together can rebalance your waveform energies and positively ionize your neuron pathways. Or something. I don’t know for sure - I fell asleep in that TED talk.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are in your sewing room, just happily quilting along, la dee da la dee da, and suddenly your machine jams up, grinds to a halt, and smoke starts curling out of the motor.  And that was the $99 special you got at Kmart because in this freaking economy that’s all you can afford and it’s not like those tax cuts everybody is all orgasmic over apply to you and now what are you supposed to do? If you’re like most quilters, you’ll just go lie facedown on the floor until the sobbing subsides, but just imagine if you had a jar of pickles next to you at your sewing table. Maybe some sweet gherkins. Then, as you watch your only link to sanity dying in front of you, you can thoughtfully munch on a nice crisp and tangy pickle, feeling your chakras triangulate into a pyramid or something, and when you’ve finished the entire jar you can hurl it at the machine, effectively venting your frustrations and putting out what might have been an actual fire inside that thing. See? Isn’t that better?

Here’s another one. Let’s say you are at a guild meeting and the guild show chair is handing out assignments but she is a perfectionist micro-managing hell-beast and your assignment—which is basically to stand at the door and hand out flyers—is specific down to the acceptable brand and color of mascara you are allowed to wear, and the chair is all like, “Is there a problem” because your face is pinched in a fit of unspoken rage and it’s not like you can say out loud what you’re really thinking so you just have to keep it all in to fester like all your unfulfilled dreams. But just imagine if you had a jar of pickles in your hand. Maybe some kosher dills. Then, when the hell-beast is ready to micro-manage your face you can go, “Hoo boy these are some sour pickles—want some?” And when her attention is deflected by the jar of tasty cukes you can run out the door and into sweet, sweet freedom. There. All better.

Really, there’s no problem that a good jar or at least a dish of pickles can’t solve. In fact, the famous Pickle Dish quilt pattern was so named because Prohibition-era quilters used to keep a small dish of pickles handy to mask the smell of homemade hooch on their breath, since in those days quilting bees were really just speak-easies. And that’s where guilds come from, but that’s another story for another day.

I hope you’ll join me in the long lost tradition of the jar of pickles in the sewing room, because when quilting threatens to get your briefs in a bunch, there’s nothing like a bread-n-butter chip to make it all better.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 is in the bag

It has been an odd year.

The shadow hanging over the first half of the year was that I would be having surgery again, my third in as many years. The hernia surgery I had in 2016, which was extensive and extremely painful for a very long time, failed after only a few months, plus I developed a new one. I was lucky to find a surgeon who specializes in cases like mine, and who uses better repair techniques, and had everything gone perfectly my recovery probably would have been quicker and much less painful than the original surgery. Unfortunately, I developed a post-operative infection—most likely from when they had to remove my appendix during the procedure because the old mesh had become adhered to it—and I was sick for over a month. It all culminated with a drainage tube installed in the middle of my abdomen, which I had to flush twice a day and clean and drain, and I would rather have had the pain, quite frankly. The cocktail of antibiotics I had to take made me quite ill on top of the infection and I was a useless blob for what felt like a very long time.

In the first half of the year, before the surgery, I did manage to make one quilt, The Sea of Serpents, which I wrote about here. I also did a couple small appliqué pieces.

This one is called Flipping the Bird:

And this one is Billy Rose's Aquacade:

I did a few more in the summer and fall after I got better.  The blue and green are out of order on this one, which still just kills me, but this one is called Type It Out:

A scissors pattern I found in my old computer files inspired this, The Cutter Wheel:

And this came from the eyeglass design I developed when I made my store logo. I've been having some slightly odd vision problems, and I began to contemplate (though the problems aren't that bad) what the specter of vision loss must be like. This one is Fade from View.

So, one large quilt, and five mini quilts, not too shabby. But then the bag thing started.

Oh, the bag thing.

Last year, my sister wanted to make me a bag, something, she said, that I'd never make for myself. I didn't take that as a challenge, but it kind of sat there in my brain for a while: why wouldn't I try to make that for myself? I mean, I was thrilled to get a bag made by my sister—and I still would be—but frankly I loved the one she made so much, I wanted more and I certainly don't expect her to be my on-call bag maker. I've learned plenty of other things, I thought. Surely I can learn this.

Y'all, I have made 22 bags this year, and I'm working on number 23. There are only 17 bags in the photo above because I made four more after I took the picture. The thing is, most have something pretty wrong with them, so even though I do use many of them, the ones I don't use I don't know what the hell to do with. Every bag has been a learning experience, and I am really enjoying the process of making mistakes and stepping back to try and figure out how to prevent those mistakes the next time. I am learning the limits of my machines, the properties of different materials, as well as so many new techniques and tools. It often takes me as much time to select the fabrics as it does to make the bag, and it's wonderful to be able to move slowly and yet still have a completed project in just a few days.

These are some of the bags I do use.
I'm currently working on a bag pattern which I hope to release early next year that is geared towards beginner bag makers, employing everything I've learned in the past year to make a bag that's cute and has lots of options, but won't make a newbie cry in frustration.

So, as far as actually making things, even though it hasn't been big quilts, it's been a great year.

The blog, however...

Yes, the blog has languished this year, and that is both the result of a downward trend in post frequency that really began a few years ago, and also a reflection of my own need to just step away from things for a while. The last few years have seen a lot of endings for me, and I began to wonder whether it might be time to end The Bitchy Stitcher as well. I haven't felt engaged with it for a while, and really wondered if I wanted to keep it going at all. Sometimes I like to just do a hard reset and start completely over, see where it takes me. That's how I got out of the optical business and became a magazine editor. I put aside a freshwater fishkeeping hobby for sewing and this is where I am now. If you have the freedom and the inclination (and the temperament), giving yourself a clean slate can be a great thing, and I was thinking maybe it's time.

And then I got an email. I had been asked by Maddie Kertay of Badass Quilters Society to do a monthly humor column starting in July. If you missed them here they are:

July: Letting Go
August:Meet the Candidates
September: Things You Need to Stop (to be a better quilter)
October: A Few Words About Your Quilting By Your Dog
November: Quilt the Pounds Away
December: Quilting Reality Shows

As it happened, I had been working on a second book, so I had just enough pieces written to get through the end of the year, so I thought, why not? I might get some new readers out of it, and maybe that would reignite my passion for the Bitchy Stitcher. Well, turns out it's hard to know if you have new readers when you don't really write much, but then I got this email, shortly after my December piece posted, from someone who found me through that column:

I want to truly say thank you for writing your book!  I laughed my way through every paragraph!! Your book came to me during a very recent hard time for my family and I can honestly say this is the only thing that has been able to make me smile and laugh. Your humor is my much needed medicine! I can not thank you enough.

You want to make me cry? Tell me laughing at my stuff got you through something difficult. I will cry like a little bitch. Also, you want to to make me completely rethink my decision to stop writing a blog I've been doing for almost ten years? Same deal.

So, I have a pattern to write and a humor book to finish. And while I do those I'm really going to try to get back to writing about whatever fool thing that comes into my head here on the blog. But I need your help. The only reason I keep a personal Facebook page is because you have to have one in order to have a nonpersonal page, like I do for the Bitchy Stitcher. And I keep that because it seems like the best way to keep people apprised of new posts and anything else new that might be going on. If you don't already, please like my Facebook page, which you can find here. When you go there, under the picture of typewriters at the top, you'll see three buttons: Like, Follow, and Recommend. If you click both Like and Follow, you're more likely to see when I post - and I'll always post on Facebook when I have a new piece up here or anywhere else. If you see something on Facebook any engagement at all helps more eyes see it, so likes and comments are really vital, and shares are great too but you can save that for the really good stuff. And I totally get it if you don't want your friends knowing you follow a foul-mouthed, silver-haired bag lady—but if you're cool with that your engagement helps me a lot and also lets me know that I'm not just shouting into the void.

But if, like me, you kinda hate Facebook, you can also subscribe to my posts. That's different than subscribing to the newsletter—subscribing to posts means that every time I post something new here, the entire post goes right to your email inbox. Look at the sidebar on the right side of this page and go to the last item at the bottom where it says "Subscribe to my blog posts via email." Just put your email address in that box and click Subscribe and follow the subsequent instructions. That list is used for absolutely NOTHING else other than getting my posts in your inbox. JUST REMEMBER: I curse n' stuff and if that bothers you I don't want to hear about it and why are you even here? (Yes, after 9+ years I still have to say this.)

If you want to see pics of my stitchy stuff in progress and pretty much the second I complete anything, as well as the occasional pic of my absurdly precocious children, you can follow me on Instagram (@thebitchystitcher). I sometimes link to posts there, but it's not the best place for that, so I don't do it consistently.

I have some ideas for the year ahead, and we'll discuss those later, and maybe maybe maybe, I might consider reviving THE CALENDAR. Maybe it has been gone too long to bring back, but as I say, we'll talk.

So, here's the part where I thank you: for reading this long-ass post to the end. For sticking with me for almost 10 years. For sticking with me through some rough years. I am determined to make 2018 my bitch and I hope to see you along the way.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Handmade Holiday

‘Tis the season, as they say, and no matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, it probably involves people expecting you to buy them stuff. Holiday commercialism has gotten so out of hand that even the acolytes of the demon Sa’avu are putting aside their usual blood-letting rituals in favor of Secret Sa’avu gift exchanges. And now that the Gaudiest People Who Ever Lived are in power, gift exchanges have gone from “$10 or less” to “$10 or whatever obscene amount you think will most impress people you barely know.” Lord only knows what the white supremacists are exchanging this year.

But we are makers, dammit, committed to the principle that if you have to give a gift to That Woman In Accounting Who Keeps An Unusual Amount of Empty Diet Coke Cans In Her Cubicle or to That One Person In Book Club Who Never Reads The Book But Has Lots Of Opinions About It Anyway, then it should be handmade. Here’s a handy guide to all the things you could potentially whip out with some fabric and thread that will fulfill all your social obligations and your hard-won sense of identity.

1. Zipper Pouch. At best, this is merely 4 pieces of fabric and a zipper, and if you’ve never sewn a zipper before, what better time to learn than at 11:48 pm on the night before your kid has to bring in a teacher gift or she will JUST DIE. In fact, you know what? Who needs zippers anyway? Zippers are stupid, and frankly, are just the excessive trappings of bourgeois consumerism and so you get a sack. A sack with no way to hold it shut except your own hands BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE NEVER GET ANY CLOSURE, SHEILA.

2. Infinity scarf. Because we are all at the age now where we have to make important, daily neck decisions. Instead of wearing itchy turtlenecks that just make your face look fat, you can don a graceful drape of gauzy fabric that will not actually keep you warm but will at least hide the skin you now realize is starting to resemble the skin on a ballsack.

3. Mug rug. No, Kathy. I will not make you a quilt. You are, quite literally, the most annoying person I have ever met and you make every single meeting a living hell simply by breathing near me. (It’s phlegmy, Kathy. So phlegmy.) I’m not going to make you a table runner or a wall hanging—no, I’m going to make you a glorified coaster. Because maybe, just maybe, after you set down the mug of “herbal tea” (Diet Snapple and vodka) you are constantly sipping from, you will then place the wadded up tissue into which you hork up gobs of death slime during staff meetings onto the coaster next to it and not directly on the conference table like some sort of savage. It’s a gift for us all, really.

4. Pillow. Okay, so, I had plans for this, I really did. I found this paper piecing pattern that was George Clooney’s face. Like, Out of Sight, Ocean’s Eleven, O Brother Where Art Thou Clooney. Peak Clooney, in other words. And I thought hey, who wouldn’t want to have a fabric representation of an older but wiser Doug Ross to embrace and/or throw at the dog? But then there were all these tiny, tiny parts (charming laugh lines are super difficult to paper piece—who knew?) and it was all so hard to line up, George ended up looking more like Matt Damon and that is just eight million kinds of oh hell no, so I had to burn it and then I ran out of time so I made you this instead. It’s purple. Yes, just 2 squares of solid purple sewn together with some stuffing. Shut up—it’s your favorite color and you can still throw it at the dog.

5. Pot holders. For all your acquaintances in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

6. Vibrator cozy. Currently, there are no patterns for this in existence (that I know of) other than knitted or crocheted ones (and you know how we feel about that), so perhaps some enterprising soul could come up with a design. It would really only need to be four pieces of fabric and a drawstring. In fact, you know what? Who needs drawstrings anyway? Drawstrings are just a symbol of how we are tied down by the patriarchy and so you just get a sack, a sack that you have to hold together with your own hands because we are women and we have to give ourselves our own orgasms SO WE CAN HOLD OUR OWN GODDAMN SACKS TOGETHER TOO I GUESS, SHEILA.

7. Gift cards. It counts if you draw on the envelope.


 Peace and joy and love to you all, my friends. And Hail Sa’avu.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Choose to Fuse: Tips and Tools for Using Fusibles for Appliqué

Welcome to the Back-To-School Blog Hop! I chose to talk about fusible products for appliqué since that is predominately how I create these days, and I want to share with you some things I have learned that helped set me on my current fusible appliqué path. (If you’d like to see some of my work, head over to the My Quilts gallery page, where the first eight pieces you’ll see all use fusible appliqué.) Maybe you’ll be infused with a new-found enfusiasm for fusing!

Types of fusible webbing products
Part of what makes fusible products so confusing is that there are so many different ones and everybody has an opinion about which one is the best. In reality, there is no one best fusible product. They all have slight differences, and what works best for you will depend on your particular preferences. Since most of my appliqué pieces are meant to hang on a wall, I am not as concerned about the feel of the fabric after fusing as I am about the ease of transferring and cutting out my design. Others want the softest fusible possible for use in quilts that need to be comfy and not stiff. But how do you know what you are going to get when you see the profusion of fusible products out there?

It helps to know that there are three main types of fusible webbing (and here I am only talking about fusible webbing, which is meant to fuse two fabrics together, not fusible interfacings, which bump up the thickness and body of the fabric they are fused to). They are:

  • Single paper-backed
  • Double paper-backed
  • No paper at all just webbing floating free in the breeze (stop me if my terminology is getting too technical here.)

Single paper-backed fusibles include Wonder Under (regular and heavy duty) Heat-n-Bond (Lite and Ultrahold), and Soft Fuse Premium. With these, you trace or draw your design onto the paper backing, then iron it with the fusible side against the wrong side of your fabric. You can then cut out your design from the drawn lines, remove the paper, and iron your shape onto your background fabric. These are the ones I prefer and find the easiest to use. (The exception to this is Pellon EZ Steam. Though it is paper-backed, you only keep the paper on while you trace your design onto the fusible itself. You then remove the paper, revealing the sticky side of the fusible, which you press down onto the back of your fabric. You can then cut out your designs from the lines you drew and iron to you background as usual.)

Double paper-backed include the Steam-a-Seam 2 products (regular and Lite). With these, you draw or trace on the gridded paper, then remove the other paper, revealing fusible that has a sticky surface. Rather than ironing down at this point, you use pressure to stick the fusible and backing to the wrong side of the fabric. You then cut out your shape, remove the backing, and iron to the background fabric. Many people love these for the ability to make things stick together before the final ironing. Personally, I dislike it because it doesn’t stick well enough when cutting and two papers to trace through gets bulky.

Free-love (or non-paper-backed) fusibles are rarer and the most commonly used and known is Mistyfuse. With no backing, you have to have some other way of getting your design transferred and one way I have seen is by using parchment paper. (See below for a few details on how to use this.) Mistyfuse is by far the softest, both before and after washing, of every fusible product I have used, so if that is important to you this will give you the best results.

(I actually collected 10 fusible products because I wanted to know what all the different types were and how they worked, but in the process I ended up conducting an informal performance test of all of them. If you are interested in those results, I will be doing a follow-up post within the next couple of weeks.)

Tools and Tips
Whatever fusible you choose, here are some tools and tips for using them that can help make your fusing a little easier:

A light box 

Although you can often trace designs onto fusible backing without illuminating it from behind, light will help a lot and your poor tired eyes will eventually thank you. The cheapest and most easily obtainable light box is of course a nice big window. You can tape your design to the window, hold your fusible on top of it (fusible backings tend to not like tape very much) and trace your design. I can tell you from experience that unless you have very good upper body strength, this gets tiring and even painful after a while. The newest models of light boxes are actually thin tablets with an LED light inside and can be adjusted for brightness. You can use these at a table or even on your lap as they don't get hot.

A mechanical pencil

With the exception of Pellon EZ Steam and Mistyfuse, you will be tracing your designs onto the paper backing of a fusible and these papers are treated so that they will easily peel away after ironing. This means they don’t take ink very well—ink tends to just bead up and smear away. Pencil works beautifully, however a standard number two pencil will lose its sharpness pretty quickly and you’ll find your line getting thicker and thicker as you draw. A mechanical pencil keeps a nice thin line no matter how big your piece and you don’t have to stop to sharpen again and again.

Parchment paper 

In the case of a product like Mistyfuse, which has no paper backing, you may need to draw your design onto something that can be peeled away later, and parchment paper is perfect for this. Parchment paper is treated with silicone, which is why food doesn’t stick to it. If you place your Mistyfuse on the wrong side of your fabric, lay a piece of parchment over the Mistyfuse and iron, the Mistyfuse will adhere to the fabric and the parchment will stick to the Mistyfuse until (after cooling) you are ready to peel it off. Parchment paper is not the same as wax paper or butcher paper or freezer paper—only parchment paper will work in this application.

Appliqué pressing sheet

The Goddess Sheet (made by the same company that makes Mistyfuse) and the Appliqué Pressing Sheet by Bear Thread designs are two examples of this type of product. If you need to press appliqué pieces and there is a chance of some of the fusible web being exposed, a pressing sheet will allow heat to pass through but the fusible won’t stick to it and won't get on your iron. (Parchment paper works as well, but a pressing sheet can be reused indefinitely.)

Dryer sheets 

If you do get fusible web on your iron (and it happens to us all), run your hot iron over a dryer sheet. Should come right off.  I keep a handful near my ironing board

Comfortable scissors 

As with so many things, this is subjective, but it’s worth finding the one that works best for you. Appliqué shapes that are somewhat detailed may be easier to cut out with smaller scissors rather than your big ol’ fabric shears, but go too small and your hands will cramp. The small Fiskars on the right are what I use most often because the blades are thin, pointy, and sharp, but they do make my hands hurt after a while. The spring-loaded Fiskars on the left are much easier on my hands, but though the blades are relatively small, they are not as thin and pointy as the others. The Tim Holtz blades in the center have big handle grips, very pointy blades, and are slightly serrated, which some people like (I prefer a smooth blade).


I find that the paper backings on some fusibles peel away easier a day or two after ironing and cutting. If I need to peel it off sooner, or if I just have one that’s being stubborn, I score the paper with the point of a pin. I can then peel away from the scoring line rather than the edge of the appliqué piece (which also saves my edge from fraying). Straight pins are much better for this than the point of a pair of scissors or a seam ripper, which could tear your fabric.

My last piece of advice is for those who, like me, have refused fusibles and machine appliqué because the zig-zag, or satin stitch, or blanket stitch you tried to use just didn’t look as nice as you wanted. Many, many people love the look of the stitching on the outer edge of an appliqué piece, but I never have, at least not when I do it and that could be because I am nearsighted and can see very, very well up close (nearsighted people tend to be a little nitpickier). But then I noticed my friend Kimberly always used straight stitch. “What is this sorcery,” I cried, and she was like, “Dude, it’s so much easier and it works fine.” And she’s right. I have done all of my appliqué pieces since then with straight stitch as close to the edge as I can get and it made all the difference for me. If you cannot see well enough to get very close to the edge, you may have some fraying beyond your stitch line, more so if you wash your piece. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind. Some people like to do a double line of straight stitching just for security’s sake, but I never have. (This doesn't mean straight stitch is the best option for everyone, but it is for me and could be for you. Always - whatever works best for you is what is best. Period.)

I hope my effusiveness about fusibles has been illuminating. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or share your own tips. And please visit all the other fine folks on the hop for lots of great info and advice:

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt – www.huntersdesignstudio.com  
Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting – www.mandalei.com
Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling – www.justquiltingpdx.com
Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine – www.LoveBugStudios.com
Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates – www.designcamppdx.blogspot.com
Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching – www.crinkledreams.com
Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo – www.vintagefabricstudio.com
Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for appliqué – www.thebitchystitcher.com <—- you are here!
Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com
Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines – www.quiltingjetgirl.com
Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips – www.craftyplanner.com
Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children – www.thetartankiwi.com
Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution – www.badassquilterssociety.com
Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric – www.wombatquilts.com
Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam – www.sewmuchcosplay.com
Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread – www.terificreations.com
Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www. higheredhands.blogspot.com
Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) – www.ipleadquilty.com
Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) – www.jessicakdarling.com
Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com
Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching – www.smudgeddesignstudio.com
Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs – www.quiltjane.com
Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room – www.onequiltingcircle.com
Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine – www.christaquilts.com
Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch – www.berrybarndesigns.com
Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding – www.websterquilt.blogspot.com
Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – www.sarahgoerquilts.com
Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips – www.chittenden.co.za
Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips – www.muppin.com
Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them – www.gogokim.com
Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué – www.sandrahealydesigns.com
Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting – www.utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Humor posts are happening!

My new humor column at BadAss Quilter's Society is not quite so new anymore, as my second one just went live today!

It's guild election time. Click here to read all about the candidates!

And just in case you missed last month's column:

This workshop will definitely help get your free motion quilting, um, going. Click here to learn the secret!

If you like these, please leave a comment at BAQS!