Friday, May 29, 2009

Catwoman sitting on Robin's face

Sorry, freaks! Nothing perverted here (unless you count my sewing skills).

Production for the next issue of the magazine I work for has begun and I already have to completely rewrite 2 articles. I haven't even seen about half the articles that are slated for this issue yet, so God knows what more I have ahead of me. I'll be lucky to have time to eat or shower over the next two weeks, much less quilt or write about it.

So please forgive me if posting is sparse over the next couple of weeks. Know that as I slave over a hot computer, turning verbal shit into gold, I'll also be looking longingly at my sewing table...and thinking of you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The best Google search EVER

I like to go through my Feedjit stats occasionally to see who has been here and where they're coming from. While it gives absolutely no personal info, it does tell me if someone came here directly (like from a bookmark) or from a link on another site or, more rarely, a Google search. Apparently, not long ago, some intrepid Googler happened upon my "That's Really Super, Supergirl" post by Googling the phrase "Supergirl becomes a naughty stripper."


(Click on the picture to see larger version)

So, of course, I did the same Google search, and my post comes up first!!!



Now I want to try to engineer posts so that bored perverts will be stumbling upon a humble quilting blog as they try to find pictures of Catwoman sitting on Robin's face. In fact, that might just be the perfect title for my next post.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I have a spatial relations problem.

So, I'm making these diamonds, right? And, in the table runner in the magazine I am working from, they alternate direction to make a chevron pattern. The instructions say NOTHING about this, so I assume that it's going to be pretty simple, and I just start cutting away with my nifty template/ruler combo thing.

I sew together two rows of diamonds, assuming that in order to change the direction, you just turn the strip the opposite way. Because I am too spatially-challenged to understand that THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE DIRECTION IS TO TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN.

See - happy diamonds, angled to the left:



Now, flip it around - STILL angled to the left:



But, turn it upside down:



And, voila!, angled to the right. So I get it in my head that to create the alternating rows, I need to have TWO templates, one oriented to the right, so I take the original paper template and trace it on plastic again, only this time UPSIDE DOWN. Because I am so, so clever.

Now, it does occur to me once or twice that these diamonds are symmetrical, but the empirical evidence doesn't lie, so I am clearly on the right path. I tape the "new" template to the other side of the ruler:



and then spend several more minutes wondering why I still seem to be cutting on the SAME ANGLE. So then I lay the template/ruler combo thing down on the OPPOSITE end of the strip and NOW my cuts are angled in the opposite direction. Success!

Feeling all proud for having overcome my handicap, I take my new stack of diamonds over to the machine and stitch 'em up...but they're still angled to the left. Motherfucker! I look over my stacks of diamonds and slowly begin to realize that there is no discernible difference between those cut from the "new" template and those cut from the old, and in a moment of clarity that I suspect was caused by solar flares, realized that you just have to put your two pieces together differently before you sew. Lay them out one way and they will angle one way; turn them 90 degrees and they'll go the other way.







So, of course, instead of just sucking it up and moving on, I chose to blog about it, so I could go over it again and again in my mind, replaying it like a game-losing fumble on the jumbo-tron. Because I never fail to be utterly fascinated by my own stupidity.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Plus size, too!

Now, for all us fat chicks - the Don't Drink and Quilt t-shirt comes in plus size, all the way up to 5x. These are more expensive than the eat-a-sandwich-you-skinny-bitch sized shirts, unfortunately.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Diamonds in the rough

When my sister and I met up in Virginia for our quilting weekend, we chose a place to meet that was not only roughly halfway between our hometowns but that also had a quilt shop. Lord knows, we would need to get out of the hotel room for more than just another gut-busting meal at Cracker Barrel, and we might as well round off a weekend of sewing with a bag full of fat quarters.

Unbeknownst to me, my sister knew of a fabulous place in Knoxville, which was on her route to our meeting spot, and she took the opportunity to stop there before heading on to Virginia. So her fabric needs were met, while I still needed to get a fix. I budgeted fabric money for that trip, dammit, and I was gonna get something.

In typical fashion, we headed into town having only read the address back in the hotel room. Didn't, you know, write it down or anything brainy like that. But the town was so small that it seemed one could hardly miss anything - just drive up and down the two main drags and you'll eventually find what you're looking for. Except we didn't, and had to go back to the hotel, and get her GPS, which told us, "Go back to the last street you were on, fools, and where you turned left? TURN RIGHT - IT'S ONE BLOCK THAT WAY." (I love fighting with GPS units. "Turn right." "I can't turn right, bitch; it's a fucking cemetery!" "Make a u-turn at next light." "You make the goddamned u-turn and get a ticket. I'm going home!")

So it was kind of an ordeal to get to this place, and when we pulled in to the parking lot, we were the only ones there. The shop was located in a house that had been only slightly remodeled for the purpose, and the proprietor was an older gentleman who was hobbling about on a cane and a foot in a cast, and he really, really wanted us to appreciate the new Marie Osmond fabric they just got in. I suppose this was because it was the ONLY new fabric they had received in months and months. Nearly everything was old, and there wasn't much of it ("This food is terrible!" "I know - and such small portions!"), but I did spot some lovely jelly rolls and charm packs in the Maypole collection from Moda, and, as it was the best looking thing in the shop and I was gonna buy some new fabric, dammit, I bought a roll and 2 packs.



Of course, I had to listen to the proprietor tell me all about his diabetes and his broken foot and how he ALMOST DIED falling on the ice and how he moved to Virginia from Buffalo because his property taxes were $6000 a year there and now they're only $2000 and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME OUT OF HERE. My sister conveniently got a call from her husband and waited outside while I nodded sympathetically (I'm actually very polite in real life) for what seemed like hours until the transaction was completed and I could make my escape.

So, I bought these lovelies even though they're not really my style, and I've been itching to sew all week. I found a pattern in an old quilting magazine that my mom gave me for a table runner that uses jelly roll strips, some of them cut into diamonds. The creator of the pattern wanted to also sell her nifty plastic diamond templates, but I just made my own. I cut out the paper template from the magazien and then traced it onto template plastic and cut that out. Then I taped the plastic template onto a small ruler:



That way, I could line up the template on the jelly roll strip and still have the ruler edge for cutting.



And with that, I was able to sew some lovely diamonds.



Triangles, and now diamonds? Next thing you know I'll be sewing curves and shit and strutting around like I'm all that instead of complaining about my lack of skill. But I'm sure I will still have plenty of time to bitch about my diabetes and how I almost DIED when I fell on the ice...

T-Shirt Now In Black!

By request, my Cafe Press store now has the Don't Drink and Quilt t-shirt (v-neck for now) in black! I'll keep adding options as I have the time to set them up. Thanks to everyone who has purchased items from the store so far (all 3 of you)!

UPDATE: Also available in a crew-neck in 3 pastel colors (pink, blue, and yellow. The 'I am a Bitchy Stitcher" tee is now on an organic cotton crewneck instead.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Get out your thinking caps

Boy, ya'll really want me to get in trouble, don't you? I mean, my sister-in-law can suck it - I don't actually care what she thinks. But my mother-in-law? She will make my life a living hell if I cross her. The woman already carries around a huge chip on her shoulder, and she's always looking for more reasons to be the aggrieved party. And as much as I'd like to stick it to my SIL, I do not have the balls to piss off my mother-in-law. That woman is nuts.

Anyhoodle, I've been thinking for some time now about writing an article on quilting bloggers and shopping it around to some quilting mags, and I'd love it if some of you would help me out. Any good article needs sources, and what better sources than all of you who read and write quilting blogs? Below you will find a list of questions - if you'd like to participate, you can answer any or all of them in the comments or in a private email to me (harperland at mac dot com). If I decide to use one or more of your answers in the article, I will contact you directly to get a little more info from you. Hey, who doesn't love a little blog publicity, right?


1. What influenced you to start blogging? Was there a particular blog that inspired you?

2. How many quilting blogs do you regularly read?

3. What keeps your blog going? What motivates you to keep posting?

4. What, if anything, has blogging done for you personally? Have you gained friends, a sense of community, increased your self-confidence?

5. What, if anything, has blogging done for your quilting?

6. What are 2 or 3 of your favorite quilting blogs, and why?


Okay, I think that's enough for now. Thanks for helping!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here it is...

The winner of the Cafe Press item of her choice is...

Traci!

Traci wrote,"These are great! Love the Don't drink & quilt! Crossing my fingers!" Congrats, Traci. Just be sure to email me your address and the exact item you would like (size included, if choosing a t-shirt) and please let me know how you like it when it arrives.

I wish I could send something to all of you. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 18, 2009

That's Really Super, Supergirl

This afternoon, before it was time for the sitter to leave, I grabbed a few minutes to run out and go to the store. I still had a few minutes to spare, so I thought I'd stop in at the little toy store in the strip mall across the street from the grocery store and see if they had any superhero capes. Devon, the 2-year-old, has been using a tiny red bandanna and a pinkish red fat quarter as capes, and though she is perfectly satisfied with them, I find it a bit sad that her capes don't exactly fly in the wind behind her when she runs around yelling "SUPER DEVON!"

So, I discover that the toy store, which has been around for over 30 years, has just gone out of business. I'll spare you any boo hoo-ing about that particular tragedy, but it made me hit the JoAnn Fabrics a few doors down to see if they had any decent patterns that looked easy enough for someone who only knows how to sew in semi-straight lines. They didn't. In fact all the pattern books were loaded with these really elaborate Marie Antoinette, whalebone corset and bustle-type costumes. Which, beside the fact that I could no more make one of those than I could put my leg behind my head, don't exactly seem conducive to fighting crime. I figured a cape can't possibly be that hard, so I bought some red and black Kona cotton and decided to work it out on my own.

After looking at several tutorials online that just weren't what I wanted, I set about cutting the yardage into a trapezoid shape, I hemmed the sides and bottom, and made an opening in the top to thread a tie through. I made one in red for Devon and one in black for Harper, and somehow, they both kept themselves occupied so I could make them. Once Devon's was done, she immediately wanted to strip down to her diaper before she put it on. I'm not sure why, but I was happy to oblige. Harper was too busy to keep hers on for long, but Devon agreed to show off her new, Justice League-worthy cape for the camera:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Even in my dreams

Last Monday, when I should have been working at my real job, I was suddenly inspired to finish the pieces that I have been working on for Quilter's Home magazine. Jake Finch, the managing editor, had told me that even though they couldn't publish the piece I sent them, they still wanted something, and, since she had been reading the blog, she seemed pretty sure I could come up with new material with no problem.

Well, of course I had problems. Whether it was the timing, or the pressure to produce, I was stuck. I had 3 ideas, but just couldn't do anything with them, leading me to think that perhaps the ideas sucked, but then how was I going to come up with any more ideas? I had started writing one of them, completely unable to tell if it was funny or not. I was writing what I thought would make me laugh, if I weren't in such a deep pit of despair, and just hoped that, once I came to my senses and was able to recognize humor again, I would see it for the brilliant piece of satire it was.

Last Monday must have been my day, because - though I will never actually use the word "brilliant" to describe anything I create - I looked at it again, and I liked it. Not only that, but the other two ideas, which had been festering in my brain for weeks, suddenly came to life as well and I wrote them both on the spot. After another hour of deliberation and Dr. Pepper chugging, I emailed them off to Jake.

She responded very quickly, saying that they were in the middle of production for their next issue (as was I, and why I should have been working) and would not be able to get to them for a few days, but she seemed genuinely pleased to have them and looked forward to reading them. So now, again, I wait.

Last night, I dreamed that Mark sent me an email, in which he referred to the original article as "The Greatest Article Ever Written Too Bad We Can't Publish It Thanks A Lot," and scolded me for having the balls to send three pieces at one time, when everyone knows that it is extremely unprofessional to send more than one.

And then he called my boss to complain about me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh, good.

Finally, after a week in which I was given not one, not two, but 5 last-minute assignments (one of which involved entirely re-writing an article from scratch because the prose was so bad), I was able to spend 2 hours quilting yesterday afternoon. Little Miss I-Don't-Wanna finally got so tired she had to nap, and Mama went to town.

Naturally, on my first time back at the sewing machine in God knows how long, I managed to sew several things incorrectly. And as I became reacquainted with my seam ripper, I thought that it's somewhat comforting to know that some things just never change.

Monday, May 11, 2009

If nothing else, I amused myself for a few hours

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. DEADLINE HAS PASSED. STOP ENTERING!

I got this idea in my head this past weekend, and I just couldn't let it go. At the last magazine I worked for, I used to do some limited graphics work, mostly in InDesign but also a bit of Photoshop, creating ads for people who couldn't afford a professional. As with nearly everything I do, I taught myself and had (and still have) no idea what I was doing. Still, I churned out some okay stuff. I mean, nobody sued or anything, so it must have been acceptable.

I've never been a big novelty t-shirt fan, but my friend Amy, who is into knitting, has some really cool ones and I thought it would be neat to have some of my own for quilting. And I have done some searches, but never quite found anything that suited my sense of humor.

So, I made my own.

I have opened a little Cafe Press store with a selection of 3 t-shirts, 2 coffee mugs, and a tote bag. Here are the designs:

This is available on a v-neck t-shirt and 2 sizes of mug:


This is on a regular t-shirt and a tote bag:


And this is on a pink t-shirt:


I have kept everything at $19.99 or less, so any sale would net me a buck or three. And to get the ball rolling, let's do a giveaway! The winner will get one item from the Bitchy Stitcher Cafe Press store, so go visit and see what you like best (not all designs are available on all products, because they're stingy when you use the free store option). Then leave a comment here and tell me which one you would like if you win. See - easy peasy; I didn't even make you jump through hoops for this one.

Deadline for leaving comments is one week from today - Monday, May 18 at midnight e.s.t. One entry per person. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on Wednesday, May 20.

Good luck - and please be nice if you think these totally suck.

UPDATE: Yes, this is open to overseas residents as well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Miss me?

There is one basic reason why I have been so bad these last few weeks about doing any sort of regular posting. One small, cute, stubborn reason. My 2 year old daughter, in defiance of all that good and proper and a part of the natural order, has given up her afternoon naps.

My older daughter did this early as well, but not THIS early. I can remember talking to her daycare provider and later her preschool teachers to explain to them that Harper no longer takes naps and that, if she does manage to fall asleep, she will stay up all night and turn her mother into a babbling, zombie-like creature.

So now Devon has decided to do the same thing - a year earlier than her sister - thus depriving me of the only time I had in the course of a day to do things for myself. That was quiltin' and bitchin' time, and now it's gone and I can't figure out how to pull those two hours back out of my day.

I am hoping that when Harper starts kindergarten this fall I can find an affordable, part-time preschool or daycare situation that will allow me a few hours everyday to work and quilt and write while still having time to spend with her until her sister comes home. I've done the math, and I just don't think I can afford the sitter more than I already have her now. If only there were some way I could make some extra cash...

Well, if I ever manage to write something for Quilter's Home, I might get a bit, but what I really need is a merchandising empire. I mean - who doesn't, right?

I have thoughts brewing, and if all goes well, by tonight I will have totally SOLVED all your future Mother's Day gift buying dilemmas. It means I have to put off writing an article that is due tomorrow night, but screw that. This is way more fun.

(Oh, and the quilting weekend was fun and informative. It was also weird, in a way that will take a long time to explain. But I did learn the secret to perfect triangles - half-square triangles, anyway, though there is a similar method for flying geese. It involves this woman:



Know her? My mother and sister HATE this woman, but I have never seen her show so I don't know what they are talking about. However, she - or someone very clever in the company that holds her name under license - has invented this nifty ruler thingy:



It includes a chart, so that you look up what size you want your final squares to be, and then cut your fabric to a larger size square that corresponds according to the chart. Then you put the two colors of your fabric together and draw a line diagonally from corner to corner, both ways. Sew a scant 1/4 inch seam on either side of those lines - again, both ways. Then using a rotary cutter you cut along the lines you drew as well as vertically and horizontally and VOILA:



Perfect triangles!)