Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More fun than a lousy quilter should be allowed to have

Now, I know everybody is all upset about the Dude leaving Quilter's Home, and there have been declarations all over the 'net about how people will NEVER pick up another issue EVER AGAIN, but I'm asking y'all to at least take a peek at the December issue when it comes out. Not for me (even though I will have another article in that issue) but for Melissa Maher, Senior Editor - the last staffer who has hung on through all of the drama over there. Poor thing is busting her ass to get the December issue finished, despite everything that has happened in the last weeks, and I can personally attest to her extreme awesomeness in the face of adversity. She tells me that it is "up to the powers that be" whether the mag will even exist after the December issue, so do me a solid, y'all, and pick that one up in mid-November when it hits the stands.

Apparently, there is nothing more motivating to my brain than the prospect of being published. I have been despairing of late that I have no more original ideas for humor articles to submit anywhere, and thinking how sad it is to be washed up so soon. Then I get word from the editor at another quilting mag that she is also interested in my work! I was spewing out article ideas left and right after that, and now I have a list of 9 to start working on. Do I have other things I should be doing instead? Oh, yes I do. Will I be a good girl and do them? Fuck, no. Mamma's gotta make some money with the funny.

And while I am sitting at my computer, giggling to myself over my juvenile humor, I will also be waiting for my trusty UPS man to deliver MY NEW SEWING MACHINE. No, it's not one of them fancy Berninas or Huskerduvarnas, just a little better model of Brother. I'm hoping this one will be better for the machine quilting I hope to start this fall, and if not, I'm sure the video I take of me running over it with my car will go viral and provide me with a small measure of satisfaction.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This may only be of interest to me, cuz I'm in the magazine "biz," but I thought I'd share.

So, okay. For the past few months I have been exchanging emails with the editor-in-chief of Quilter's Home magazine, and that person was not, in fact, Mark Lipinski. Truth be told, other than his initial email to me after I sent him my first article, I have had no direct communication with him whatsoever. First, his managing editor, the lovely and kind Jake Finch, and I were doing the email/phone thang, and then there was nothing for several weeks. Then I sent Jake a "What's up" email and she dropped the little bomb that Quilter's Home had been "acquired" by New Track Media and she had been canned. A week or two later, I got email from the new editor-in-chief, Jan Magee, late of Quilter's Newsletter. Mark now had some new title, but I was given the impression that the mag was still pretty much his baby.

Now, Jan and I had been trying to get my contract for the second article, which is supposed to appear in December, squared away, and apparently my mail wasn't getting through, so I sent another copy to her via Priority Mail a couple weeks ago. Early this week, I sent her an email to ask if she had received it, and received a reply from some new person saying that Jan was no longer EIC at Quilter's Home, and that Mark would be handling everything from now on.

Mark posted this on his personal blog yesterday:

As of yesterday, I have resigned from my position with New Track Media and am no longer connected with Quilter’s Home magazine in any way. I am also discontinuing any involvement with Quilt Out Loud, QNNtv.com, and Quilter’s Club of America.

God knows what will become of the magazine now (though they really should give me a call) without that crazy dude at the helm. I'm betting it may just die away at this point, but one never knows. But I know the world will be a sadder place without a quilting magazine that regularly features a middle aged gay man and his dog on the cover of every issue.

How to make quilt backing - a tutorial

Once again, I feel the need to pass on some of my hard-earned wisdom:

1. Lay the finished quilt top down on the floor. Stand 3 or 4 feet away and look at it with furrowed brow, until the exact dimensions of the quilt miraculously pop into your head.

2. If this does not happen, compare it (mentally, of course - don't bother, you know, getting up or anything) to a finished quilt you remember making recently. Recall that you probably bought, oh, I don't know, about 2 yards of fabric for that one.

3. Buy 1.5 yards of fabric.

4. Lay quilt top back down on the floor. Unfold the yardage you just purchased and lay it on over the quilt top.

5. Dammit.

6. Pull out the quilt you remembered making, and realize that it took acres of fabric, cut into puzzle pieces, in order to fit a 60 x 60 inch quilt.

7. Consider that quilting is kind of like childbirth. You swear that you hate it and will never do it again, but then that cute fabric comes along, looking all sexy and inviting, and here you are again, screaming obscenities and begging for drugs.

8. Go to internet for inspiration and advice. Fail to be inspired when every article on the subject insinuates that you are either a criminal or a moron if you cannot square up the quilt top before you even THINK of making the backing.

9. Decide to start quilting advice column: Dear Bitchy Stitcher.

Dear Bitchy Stitcher,
Do I need to square up my quilt top before I make my backing?

Fuck, no! Did it turn out spherical? Do you need Dramamine when you look at it? No? Then you're fine. Have a mojito and watch a George Clooney movie instead.

10. Order several yards of neutral 108" wide fabric that you will now use for EVERY quilt.

11. Have a mojito. Watch Out of Sight for the forty-seventh time. Make vasectomy appointment for husband.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I miter I might not

The results of hacking up my Ikea fabric and making a simple 4-patch quilt top for my friend Amy's daughter's 2nd birthday:

But I had to do something to potentially screw the whole thing up, so I taught myself how to make:


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Insert walking foot pun here

Remember earlier this summer when I had that minor drama about being recruited to make a memory/photo quilt for my husband's grandma's 90th birthday? And how my sister-in-law came up with the brilliant plan to have me hand make Grandma's gift that would be from my family AND hers AND my husband's and their contribution to the effort would be to pay for the materials until I informed them that it would cost roughly $300 total for the fabric and the quilting and then they were all, OH CRAP, WE CAN'T AFFORD THAT and the idea suddenly became that my mother in law would make Grandma a dress and I would make a purse and my sister-in-law would buy shoes.

Now, at this point I was tempted to make the damn quilt anyway, because what kind of a 90th birthday gift is a dress and shoes and handbag? But I am a "don't rock the in-law boat" kind of person, and I just smiled and said okay. I waited patiently for my MIL to send me swatches of the material she would be using for the dress, and they finally arrived a month or so ago.

I chose not to photograph them for you, because I respect you and want you to return here on occasion. Let me just say that on first glance it looked like chambray, but turned out to be some sort of petroleum-based fiber in a color I would describe as alien blue. Try to match that with quilting fabric.

So I carried this swatch around with me for weeks until I first came up with a fabric from JoAnn's, that feels so thin and flimsy it will probably dissolve in the wash and I made this:

But it's small and feels flimsy since it has no interfacing or anything to give it body. I've been holding onto this pattern for some time, and decided to try it out, but because it uses batting, the directions recommend using a walking foot.

So now I have a walking foot, which means I may be trying my own quilting soon (and you can bet you'll be hearing about THAT). Let me just say that this project got screwed up in every way it may be possible to screw something up, including getting the thread so tangled on the spindle that I bent my needle into a "J" before I realized it. And yet, it's not totally sucky when you look at it from a reasonable distance:

But, I'm still not happy. I mean this is the woman's 90th birthday after all, and even if she's getting a crappy gift, I still owe it to her to do my best, so I'm going to try again, though I haven't picked a pattern or new fabric yet.

And then my husband talks to his mother on the phone yesterday and tells her that I've been working hard on making just the right purse, and she says, "Oh, yeah. I'm just gonna have to buy something. I don't have time to make her anything."

And my husband, bless him, said, "Why don't you just send the money you would spend to Megan AND SHE COULD MAKE GRANDMA A QUILT."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dear friends and family,

Welcome to my blog. You didn't know I had a blog, did you? Or, certainly not one that I've kept up for over a year, one which has chronicled my adventures in self-taught quilting, among other topics. That's because I kinda didn't want you to know about it.

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would try to write only to please myself. If other people, strangers, came along for the ride, that was fine, but I didn't want to end up censoring myself because there was a possibility my dad or a friend I had recently reconnected with on Facebook would discover that I have a potty mouth.

So, let's just lay it all out on the table here, so you can be fair warned, as they say.

1. I curse. A lot. I don't do it to shock anyone; I do it because that is a part of my personality, and has been for as long as I can remember. I think cursing is funny.

2. I make fun of myself. A lot. You will be tempted to come away from reading my self-deprecating remarks and think, "Poor Meg. Still so insecure after all these years." Well, no.

I make fun of myself because A) it's safer than making fun of someone else, and B) it helps me get past my perfectionism. Instead of throwing my sewing machine at the wall because I can't figure out how ease stitching is supposed to work, I come here and write about wanting to throw the machine at the wall, and run over it with the car, and scatter the pieces across the globe so that they can never be reassembled - and then I feel better, and I have a germ of an idea for a piece about a demon sewing machine that I could submit to crazy quilting magazines.

My self-esteem is quite intact, thank you, and there is no need to worry.

3. I don't just write about quilting. I mostly write about quilting, yes, but sometimes I complain about my kids or my health. But be assured that these are only momentary complaints. If you read that I want to strangle my toddler, I don't really want to strangle my toddler. If I write that I feel so sick I want to die, I don't really want to die. If you are unsure how to take my hyperbole, just ask. I assure you, I am very, very sane and stable. I know this because every insane and unstable person I ever meet wants to be my best friend.

4. I use all caps a lot. It isn't necessarily meant to represent shouting. Rather, imagine when someone is talking and they want to emphasize something, and their voice does indeed rise, but not to the point of yelling. Often, the jaw is a bit clenched. There may be heavy sarcasm involved. Mere italics would not do this justice. It may take some getting used to, particularly if you are accustomed to getting emails written by political nutjobs who are all into Glenn Beck and stuff and write all their bizarro conspiracy theories in all caps SO YOU WILL HEED AND FEAR THE COMING APOCALYPSE.

5. And last. I love you all very, very much. I will not feel insulted in any way if you decide to never, ever, EVER read this blog again. Not in the slightest. So, please. Feel free to make that decision. Now would be good. I totally support you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Zen and the Art of Crappy Quilting

Holy crap, y'all. I just stepped out briefly this afternoon to pick up some magnetic closures from JoAnn's for a purse I'm trying to make, and thought I'd peruse the magazine rack as I have been wont to do nearly everyday this past week. And there, tucked away at the very bottom, underneath Knitting Sluts and Scrapbooking For Fun and Weed Money was this:

There were five copies on the rack. I bought them all. Don't ask me what I think I need with 5 copies (one to read in bed, one to keep in the car, one for framing, one to keep out to show guests, and one spare just in case the kids barf on one or something). The woman behind me in the checkout line saw my multiple copies and said, "You must have a quilt in there." I rolled one up and smacked her on the noggin and said, "Published article, baby!" Then I ran around the store going WOOT! WOOT! with my shirt off.

That's how I remember it, anyway. It's all a blur now.

Now, at this point, I feel I have to point out some minor errors in this piece. One is that if you look in the table of contents and see my article, the description of it is actually a blurb for an article from the previous issue.

Once I quit hyperventilating over that, I got to the actual piece (page 42!). Now, Quilter's Home was recently purchased by CK Media, and Mark is now the Executive Editor, and Jan Magee is the Editor-in-Chief. Apparently, the decision had been made to run my article, then the corporate overlords came and raped and pillaged or whatever it is they do, and in the meantime, everyone forgot that they hadn't informed the weird new writer that her piece was being published. So when they finally did, it had already been laid out and was apparently pretty close to the printing process. Only I didn't know this.

When I finally got an email from the new editor, I said, quite innocently, that I wanted my byline to read "Megan Dougherty." My real name is Megan Smith, but I married a Dougherty, and though I have never been bothered to legally change my name, it is the name I have always wanted to use, should I ever be so lucky as to get published. She said she would see if it was still possible, and the matter never came up again.

So my article has this unexpected intro to it written by Mark Lipinski himself, in which he calls me a "kindred quilting spirit" and implies that I am a "snarky, funny, fast-talking broad." My blog address is even there! However, he refers to me as "Megan Smith" and then the byline on the article is "Megan Dougherty."

Deep breathing. Deeeeeeeeeeeep breathing.

There are also a couple odd edits, but for the most part, they left my article intact, and uncut, and for that I am grateful. I am thrilled to have had such a lovely intro from Mark, and I am sure that, with my doctor's help, I can find a combination of drugs that will allow me to stop obsessing about the errors. (CK Media: I'm totally kidding. This is what I do! I kid! Ha ha! Please publish me again.)

In all honesty, though, they could have spelled my name wrong and printed it backwards, and it wouldn't have spoiled the fun.

And the best part? When my kids try to tell me I'm not funny, I can whip out one of my 5 copies and say, "Oh, yeah? PUBLISHED HUMORIST, SWEET CHEEKS."

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Apparently, some of you are subscribers to Quilter's Home magazine and have seen my article! I am so thrilled, but I have to tell you something:

I HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET!!!!!!!!!!!!

You would think that, knowing for as long as I have that not one but two things that I have written would be published in upcoming issues of this magazine, I would have, I dunno, SUBSCRIBED or something. But no. I didn't.

So I have to wait until it comes out in the stores, which, judging by how badly I want to get my hands on one of these things and its relation to real time, should be about a hundred and forty-six years from now.

So, I do want to hear if you've seen it and whether you liked it, but don't tell me too much about it yet, please!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Something to get up in the morning for

Forgot to show my latest fabric purchase.

These are a line from Ikea that I found on sale at Etsy (the shop where I got them is sold out, but you can do a search on Etsy for "Barnslig" to find some more). I'm trying to make a quilt for my friend's daughter, who will turn 2 in October. I am slowly getting the squares cut, in between editing and making meals and cleaning and calming the wrath of Demon Baby from Hell and playing with Cute Baby from Lollipop and Kisses Land and fending off Mr. Grabby Hands and countless hours staring at the walls wanting to die. Turns out the only thing I DON'T do when I'm lethargic and sickly is quilt.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Once again I'm in the position of feeling that I need to justify why I haven't been blogging much. Not just to you, but to myself as well, since I generally love this exercise and look forward to writing new posts. I could blame it on the fact that the last two weeks have been filled with the beginning of kindergarten for Number One Daughter as well as her 6th birthday, or the fact that production on the October issue started last week. But I've had time even with all of that and I haven't done it.

Because I feel like shit.

It's been about 3 weeks since I mentioned that my anemia had returned, or at least the group of symptoms that I associate with it: fatigue, headaches, insomnia, nausea, and worst of all, brain fog. I have been eating red meat and turkey every day, taking iron supplements, eating iron fortified cereals — and I still feel like ass. In the past it has always just taken a few days to feel a difference, but now it feels as though nothing is working. Sometimes I feel shaky, sometimes ill, and last night, about 10 minutes after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I felt as though I had been drained, and I just wanted to go to bed. Food is supposed to give you energy, right? Not take it away.

And the anemia just doesn't make sense to me. I'm not usually a big red meat eater, but I eats tons of legumes, spinach, nuts and good old breakfast cereal. In fact, I probably eat more iron-rich foods now than I ever have in my life. So why am I still anemic?

Of course the answer is "See a doctor" and I actually do have an appointment for the 24th. But have I mentioned that I hate doctors? I had one doctor years ago, a crazy lesbian doctor who had crazy affairs all over town and I was only privvy to this because one of her friends was my co-worker, who would always take things like this absolutely seriously, and would investigate and treat until we were both happy. Other doctors? "MITTELSCHMERZ!"

So, until then, I wait.