Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fabric lust

I am in between projects at the moment, so all I can do is drool over fabrics online. My keyboard is getting soggy.

These are all available at my favorite Etsy fabric shop, Fabricworm. Cynthia is sooo nice to do business with, and her neck of the woods in CA apparently has very little going through its mail system, so Priority Mail shipments arrive here on the East coast in 2 days. I love the sets she puts together, and you can buy individual yardage as well.

(This is what happens when I agree to babysit for a friend all day. After 10 hours with 3 children who all want my attention, and want it in different ways in different places and all at the same time - while also being sticky, wet, poopy, and loud - I totally lose my sense of humor. I have no idea how daycare providers do it.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

The 24-hour bag

Having finished my Kaffe Fassett quilt, with the coffee quilt and the coins quilt off at my sister's shop for machine quilting, I needed a quick project to tide me over until I start the next quilt (quilt, quilt, quilt - how many times can I say "quilt" in one sentence?). I've been holding onto a pattern I got on Etsy for a messenger bag, and on one of my last trips to the best little fabric shop in Glen Burnie, I picked up a pretty floral fabric to use for it. I started cutting the fabric Wednesday evening, and the bag was done by 9:00 p.m. the next day:

This one really tested my machine, as it is all interfaced with Decor Bond and, in many places, is folded, creating extra layers to sew through. The machine pretty much couldn't handle where the strap is sewn in, probably because there are approximately 327 layers of fabric and interfacing at those points. But I managed to sew curves on the flap that are better than any I've done before and this one has a magnetic snap closure, which was a first for me.

I road-tested it today and it isn't quite big enough for a notebook or a file folder, but the strap is long enough that I can wear it across my body instead of just perched on one insubstantial, sloping shoulder.

This will (I hope) be my next quilt project:

Instead of pink, the inner squares will be blue and purple, but otherwise it will all be the same. Except for, you know, the crappy workmanship. That's my personal touch.

Update: The quilt pattern is called "Labyrinth" and I got it free with some jelly rolls that I ordered off of eBay a while back (from this seller). I think it was created a few years ago for RJR Fabrics, and they would include it in shipments to vendors, who could then distribute it free. I have looked on the web, and it doesn't seem to be available anymore. I will try to look into the rules concerning distribution of free patterns like this, and see if there is a way I can share the pattern with you via the blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First, there was great rejoicing...

...and then mommy said "Motherfucker!"in front of the children.

I finished the Kaffe Fassett quilt:

and then, in my zeal to remove what I thought was a stray thread, I managed to completely rip out a seam holding two sections of binding together. On inspection, it looked as though a simple slipstitch would get it back together, but that turned out to be too hard for me. I really needed a smaller needle and I was already using the smallest one my carpal tunnel-damaged fingers can feel. So I Frankensteined it back together (that's a real stitch, right?).

I was only mad for a few minutes until I realized that this is my favorite quilt so far, one that was a real pleasure to make, one that will forever have special meaning for me and my daughter. Because whenever she looks at her quilt, and notices the Franken-stitches, she will remember the day her mother taught her how to say some extra-bad words.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A ray of hope

This was the binding for my first quilt, which I ended up machine sewing in desperation.

This is the binding on my second quilt. I finally committed to hand sewing, but it was hard and awkward and I put it aside for months because I hated it so much. I ended up using two different thread colors and my corners are pathetic, not to mention the ginormous stitches:

Now, here is the binding I am currently working on for my third quilt. I started cutting the strips on Friday, and as of this morning, I am over halfway done with the hand stitching. I don't hate it, don't feel like setting fire to it and running through the streets screaming anti-quilting slogans. Somehow, the whole process became easier and faster, and while I still have a ways to go, this is a marked improvement over those abominations above.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pee panic

So, I was supposed to have than ultrasound today to determine if the pain in my gut was mere mittelschmerz or an EXPLODED CYST (I shit you not, check out the comments section for the next to last post). Ultrasound technology is still so far back in the freaking Dark Ages, that one is still required to fill one's bladder with 32 ounces of water an hour before the exam is scheduled to begin. I have had pelvic ultrasounds before, and though it was uncomfortable, I managed to complete the task without leaving a puddle anywhere.

But that was before I had 2 children and gained a shitload of weight. I was having trouble just getting to the car, and by the time I reached the radiology center I was feeling very grateful that I had thought to bring a spare pair of pants. Nevertheless, I continued to hold it through tightly clenched thighs and I waddled into the office and signed in.

I had hoped that when I got to the point of just sitting in the waiting room that the urgency would abate somewhat, but it just got worse and worse. The place was clearly a mill, one of those medical offices designed to take those who have the worst insurance. Large, old, sweaty people surrounded me and the walls echoed from all the people waiting, even though it was early in the day.

And then...I kinda lost it. My heart started pounding and I got all sweaty and shaky, and I just knew - knew - that I was going to piss all over myself and that I had to do whatever was necessary to prevent that from happening. I got up and ran/waddled out the exit, sure that there would be a restroom in the lobby. But there wasn't! I was too addle-brained from urine-poisoning to think, and I ran back into the office to look for something there, then ran out again when nothing was immediately apparent. Then, I ran/waddled back out to my car, figuring if I have to pee myself I can at least do it in the privacy of my own car.

I decided to start driving to the nearest place that looked like it would have an available toilet and ended up at Target. I have never been so grateful for a public bathroom in all my life. The bathroom at the Target on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie, Maryland is now a holy place. I plan to leave offerings there every week in remembrance of how it saved my life today.

Needless to say, there was no ultrasound. I didn't bother going back or calling to explain, and frankly they were probably relieved to have one less person to deal with. I may not know whether I had a blow-out on my ovary, but I still have on the same pants I put on when I got up this morning, and that's all that really matters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The Kaffe Fassett quilt I made with my daughter came back from being quilted and now I have to tackle a binding again. I hate to fuck up such a pretty quilt, but I don't suppose I can leave the edges raw forever. Or can I?

I've been working on the backing for my husband's coffee quilt, and I ended up with 6 big pieces of fabric to sew together. I only have two seams left, and I did one this morning, only to realize that I had sewed 76 inches of fabric right side to wrong side. I sat muttering over my seam ripper, "Stupid, stupid, stupid," and my daughter said, "You're not stupid, Mom. But sometimes you do stupid things."

Yes, honey. Yes, I do.

Oh - and it's official:

I is a real editor now.

Monday, February 9, 2009


(Advance warning - there may be some TMI here, so if you don't like talk about periods and blood and lady-parts, you might want to skip this one.)

My husband's employer changed our insurance last year from Blue Cross to Aetna, and, as a result, we can't use any of our old doctors anymore. In that time, my anemia has been a recurring problem (one that was diagnosed by my old doctor, but the insurance changed soon thereafter and I was never able to do follow-up with her) and my blood pressure has been steadily climbing. I know I need to get treated for these things, but that means breaking in a new doctor.

I once had a doctor look over my paperwork and see that I had attended a local liberal arts college and was also employed as an optician. He said, and I quote, "I've always said a degree from that place wasn't worth anything," insulting both my education and my career in one shot!

I had another who was a great doctor but was also totally nuts. She and a friend of mine travelled in the same social circles and I got to hear all about her insane love affairs, which were all dramatic and soap opera-y. Finally she lured her own receptionist away from her husband and children, and then suddenly decided to quit private practice, and the general wisdom was that she was growing tired of trying to keep her sexual orientation a secret from her patients. She always liked to chat after my exams, during which she had ripped apart the paper garment that was only covering my top half, talking about this and that as I sat there shivering and attempting to wrap the shreds of paper around my bare chest.

Now, in the last 6 to 8 months, I have been having irregular periods. Like, sometimes every two weeks, and never longer than 23 days - when I used to be like clockwork. Then Saturday I woke up with a sharp, stabbing pain in my lower left side, generally where I think of my ovary as being. I ignored it - as I always do with any kind of pain - and we took the kids to the mall. I was sore and very, very tired while we were there, and I took a long nap as soon as we got home. When I got up, the pain had increased and I was too uncomfortable to do anything but sit perfectly still.

The next day I was still sore, but it wasn't as bad, and today is much better. My period started last night as well.

So, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and call a gynecologist this morning, picking an office out of the list from the Aetna website. By some miracle, someone had just cancelled, so I was able to get an appointment for just an hour later. I kissed the kids, waved bye to the sitter, and off I went.

Of course I waited forever, lightheaded and sweating from another heavy period. When I finally got in, it turned out I was seeing a nurse practitioner instead of an M.D., but, okay, whatever. I began telling her about my irregular periods and she dismissed that with the immediate diagnosis that I am getting older (39!) and I'm probably "peri-menopausal." Okay. Then I explained about the pain, but she interrupted me with a condescending talk about "mittelschmerz" and what happens when you ovulate. Then she said, "And since you just ovulated, you should expect to see your period now in about 14 days." I told her she needed to check the chart because I clearly stated that my period arrived THE NEXT DAY. Then, without missing a beat or acknowledging that perhaps her initial certainty may have been a bit hasty, she ordered a sonogram while trying to sell me on the Mirena I.U.D.

My husband wanted me to find another doctor right away, but I'm going to go ahead and get the sonogram and wait for her to call me with the results. And though I really hope I just had a particularly painful ovulation and that my crazy periods are just age-related, there is a part of me that hopes something shows up on the sonogram so that when she calls to tell me about it, I can go, "But you said I was just ovulating! Mittelschmerz! MITTELSCHMERZ!"

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thank God that's done

This quilt was an exercise in all the things I find so frustrating about quilting and sewing, the main one being rotary cutting. Even though the strips for the blocks were all from badly cut jelly rolls, I had to cut the sashing and borders myself. Everything is crooked, wavy, and just generally off kilter. I added 6 inches to each side, but the proportions are still off. I would have needed more like 12 inches to make it more proportional, but that seemed excessive.

But I do like the bright colors offset by the deep blue. I am glad, however, to be moving on to another project.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I will always suck at this

The instructions said to sew the strip blocks into six rows of six blocks each.

I interpreted that as 8 rows of 5 blocks each. It's 74 x 47.

Will it look utterly stupid if I make the border extra wide on the long sides to make up for the lack of width?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dudes! A dude! And a dog!

I just want to get something out of the way before I get to the point of this post. And that is this: I love The Gay Man. I have been blessed with many satisfying fashion makeover shows thanks to The Gay Man. I enjoy many beautifully designed objects thanks to The Gay Man. The Gay Man is often witty, often urbane, often a total wreck, but, on the whole a very fine Man indeed. (And Neil Patrick Harris is gay and can do no wrong, so there you go).

But, you see, The Gay Man? He does not like me.

When I was in the optical business, and I determined that a gentleman who had just walked in the door was most likely gay, I would have to find a reason to have one of my co-workers help him, because it was sure to be a disaster if I did it. I'd be all, "Hi! How can I help you today?" and he'd be all, "Just looking." Until said co-worker happened to stroll by and then, he'd be all "Sweetie, darling, pumpkin - am I more fabulous in the Prada or the Gucci?" And then they'd be best friends. And it wasn't just certain co-workers - it was anybody but me. A gay couple once came in when I was in the store alone, and I tried so hard to help them, until it was clear they just wanted nothing to do with me, so I left them alone—and then the next day they called my boss to complain about me. Apparently, when I tried to help them, I was acting like they were going to steal something, and when I left them alone, I was cold and unhelpful. In my defense, I was in that business for 17 years and I never had a single complaint about me in all that time.

I feel the need to mention this, so that this will be in context:

From The Bitchy Stitcher

Have you seen this magazine? The dude on the cover is Mark Lipinkski and he is a quilter and a fabric designer and this magazine is his creation. It seems that he writes a lot of the content himself, and he starts half his pieces with "Dudes!" It's all written in a very dishy style, and you get the idea that he has the sort of personality where he could become best buddies with anyone, like even your rabidly anti-gay uncle who is convinced that "the gays" are all trying to recruit children into the "lifestyle". By the time Mark was done with him, he'd be buffing his nails and grooving to Lady GaGa.

But I have to wonder: who, other than Oprah, makes the editorial decision to put himself on every cover? Every cover OF A QUILTING MAGAZINE? And not only does he put himself on every cover, his dog is always there as well, usually in some bizarrely miniaturized form.

Frankly, I think this crazy publication is just about the greatest thing to ever happen to quilting periodicals. I love the non-stuffy feel, the embrace of all styles of quilts and quilting, the advice on what rug would go with that new Alexander Henry line, the gung-ho, "You can do it!'' kind of articles. I love the fact that this guy spends time in editorial meetings going, "How shall we photograph ME for the next cover? ME and MY DOG? I think our readers are dying to see me grinning my face off while looking at the miniature dog on my shoulder. GENIUS."

But as much as I love the magazine, I am thrown off by the knowledge that, if Mr. Lipinski were to meet me, my gay man repelling vibes would send him reeling and he would be all, "Oh, honey. You know all that stuff I say in my mag about how quilters are all wonderful and anyone can do it and hugs and kisses and smooches? Well I didn't mean you." And then he'd snatch my copy away and go call my boss to complain about me.

I guess the upshot is that I should just start my own quilting magazine. The Bitchy Stitcher's Quilting Companion: A Quilting Magazine For the Rest of Us. It would of course be filled with many helpful tutorials and projects designed for total morons, and the cover would always feature me preparing to commit an act of violence upon a sewing machine (baseball bat, machine gun, dynamite, monster truck). And somewhere in every picture would be a tiny, miniature bottle of Dr. Pepper.