Monday, April 26, 2010

Team Jacob

You all are just so sweet. I loved all the helpful suggestions for fixing the skirt that I sewed with one panel wrong-side-out, most of which amounted to: Just Leave It and Pretend You Meant To Do It. Unfortunately, these suggestions all ignored or were unaware of the fact that I cannot leave a mistake that big and not suffer some sort of stroke from trying to act like I don't care. No, I ripped out all the stitches, which of course included the basting stitches that held the gathers together, and started over.

Got it all done by the next day, but it was way to small for Devon, so it ended up a gift for a friend's 2-year-old daughter, and later I started in on a second version. In between skirts, I got the itch to make a new handbag. Something big. And spidery.

The day that I finished it, I became ill with what felt like the flu, but was probably just a very nasty cold. Once the bag was done, I took to my bed for the next three days, stirring only to complain on Twitter and to start the "Twilight" DVD over again. I had resisted the whole Twilight thing, because I already had my vampire-in-love-with-human obsession when Buffy was still on and there was no way anything that was so obviously derivative of my favorite TV show EVER could win me over, and besides - teenagers get all goony over it so it must suck, right?

Turns out, when you're sick and can barely move, ANY broody vampire is a good vampire. So, of course, even though I'm feeling much better now, I still had to rent New Moon, which I watched last night and OH MY GOD TAYLOR LAUTNER. It is SO not right for a woman my age to be looking at that boy without his shirt on. I need to go watch something with Abe Vigoda in it now.

But I did manage, despite Taylor Lautner's shoulders, to make another skirt for Dev, the construction of which she watched over every second, asking "Is it ready NOW?" and "Will it be my size?" over and over throughout the process. But I didn't mind the questions, because I knew we'd get to this:

She's delighted with it, and looks adorable, and I know there's only a few short years where my girls will be both happy and willing to wear something I've made them. I had such fun watching her prance around all morning, feeling like a little princess. Of course, then she announced that next I would make her a "beautiful, fancy gown" and I had to sit down and put my head between my knees.

Good thing I still have that DVD.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bitchy Stitcher Confidential

A couple people have left rather tantalizing comments, both of which required a direct response - except there was no way to contact them except by leaving a follow-up comment. If your account is not set up to provide an email address to me when you comment, I won't be able to email you back, and if you don't have a blog or don't have an email on your blog - well, you see where I'm going with this.

So, sorry for the uninteresting business, folks, but I need to address a couple things:

Confidential to Lisa Marie: Were you serious with that offer? If so, could you email me? Email is harperland at mac dot com.

Confidential to Traci: Please email (harperland at mac dot com) me so I can get more details about what you want. I'd prefer to send you a pdf that has exactly what I want on it, so that I have assurance the correct info is being distributed. But I'd love to have you distribute it at your quilt show and I'm honored that you asked!

Thanks for your patience, everyone. I have some actual sewing to show you soon!

Monday, April 19, 2010

So, how's your day going?

Today, I decided to dip into my stash and work on something other than a quilt. I settled on a cute ruffled skirt pattern from one of my American Patchwork and Quilting magazines that I would make for my youngest daughter. I have never sewed gathers before, but this seemed like a good, simple pattern for learning. I spent my entire morning fighting with my sewing machine, and then fighting with the stitches it made, in an attempt to sew a basting stitch that could be pulled from one end into gathers. After ripping the stitches out three times, I just did a running stitch by hand. I pinned the two pieces at the seams and pulled the gathers on either side of them, pinned them down and sewed. It turned out great, though it took two hours to finally accomplish.

Except for one small problem:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Someday, I will use the phrase "egregious maledictions" in a rap about quilting.

Holy effing cow, y'all. Here I go and get all lazy on you, publishing a post that is actually a rejected Quilter's Home piece I wrote almost a year ago, and and my blog stats go through the roof! People were emailing the link, posting it on their own blogs, mentioning it in sewing forums. Which is very hard for me to understand, since there were no penis-shaped objects or egregious maledictions contained in it. But, you know, whatever winds your bobbin, babes.

Seriously, though - a thousand hits in two days? Unreal, especially for a little blogger like me. I hope at least some of those new visitors manage to stick around, but, of course, once they see my crappy sewing and gouge out their own eyes with rusty garden tools, they may reconsider.

In other news...


...I have just completed a quilt top, the first in, I don't know, several months.  If you recall, I hacked up a Moda Hunky Dory layer cake, added some white Kona, and hoped for the best.

When I started putting the blocks together, I did what I do best, and that is adhere to the party line. In other words, I kept like with like, and did not attempt to do any crazy mixing and matching, because that's  probably still punishable by death back where I come from. But even as I realized that this was a stupid move, I kept going, because I just couldn't deal with yet another stack of blocks going to the set of plastic bins that I now think of as the Quilt Graveyard.

So, I plowed through and finished it anyway, then hung it up to photograph and thought, hey. That ain't half bad after all.

I still think it would have looked better with the fabrics all mixed up, but what're ya gonna do?

Because I am unemployed and destitute, I will have to quilt this myself, though I have yet to do a complete quilt in free motion, and I fear I may die of alcohol poisoning by the time I am done. But I shall forge ahead, because I am fearless. And broke. Did I mention broke? Like might-have-to-ration-the-Dr.-Pepper broke.

And, as I told you it would, this new popularity has gone to my head, and I'd like to see if we can get the Twitter followers to come up to Facebook and Google numbers. I don't actually tweet much, but that's because I have only 22 followers and all the new followers I get are named "hotwetmama2112" and have one tweet which links to something vile and I have to report them for spam. It's hard to be devoted to a social medium that makes you want to scrub your email in-box with bleach.

But I think I'd like to pursue that medium further, mainly because I think it would be a great exercise in trying to write short humor, but I need followers for motivation. To that end, I am planning a Twitter event, date to be determined, in which I live tweet the pin basting of the above quilt. I can't guarantee there will be pictures, since my phone refuses to email photos, but there will be frustration, consternation, and trepidation - as well as several colorful turns of phrase that will require ID verification to read.

You'll have to be a follower of The Bitchy Stitcher on Twitter to read the madness as it unfolds, so click here to follow me and I'll announce the date of the event here as well as on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Quilting Glossary

A PDF of this post is available for those who would like to share it with quilt groups. Click this link and then click the "Download" button at the top of the resulting page. The PDF will allow you to print the whole post on one sheet of paper, and makes me feel better about having my work attributed to me. Thanks!

For all you newbie quilters out there, I have put together this brief glossary of quilting terms. Please let me know if you find it helpful.

A Quilting Glossary

Appliqué – A method of covering up mistakes. Not foolproof, however, as there is no method for covering up the mistakes made while appliquéing. Beer helps, though.

Backing – The material used for the back of a quilt. If a friend is doing longarm quilting for you, it must be 2 inches bigger than quilt and batting on all sides. If done at a quilt shop, 8 inches.

Batting – What you do with your eyelashes when someone starts complaining about all the fabric you’ve been buying. Warning: may lead to unintended sexual obligations.

Bias – The irrational inclination to believe that holding down a job or cooking some food for once is a more productive use of time than quilting.

Design Wall – What Sheila has. You know—Sheila. Don’s wife. He made it for her. He, apparently, knows how to use the tools in his garage. I get to use an old flannel sheet that looks like the cat yakked on it.

Electric Quilt – What you see after you eat the funny sugar cubes someone gave you at that last Grateful Dead show. Not that I would know.

Fat Quarter – The section of New Orleans where the happy quilters live. Nobody tells them to lay off the potato salad. Also, the name of my future fabric shop/Cajun restaurant.

Flying Geese – Quilt pattern comprised of repeating blocks made from three triangles. Also known as Completely Impossible and Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

Fussy Cut – What results when you whine like a big baby because the fat quarter you got at the guild swap isn’t “quilt shop quality” and Tille Henderson pulls a switchblade.

Grain Line – No, not what you stand in to get free Jack Daniels. You’re not funny, you know.

Half Square Triangles – Triangles cut from a square of fabric which, when they are sewn together, miraculously form a trapezoid.

Miter – The cool hat you get to wear when you are elected Bishop of Quilters. No, really. There’s a ceremony every year in the Fat Quarter during Mardi Gras.

Quarter Inch Seam, Accurate – What quilt books and patterns are always harping on, like the world’s gonna end if your seam is a little off.

Quilt Sandwich – Yeah, lettuce and tomato. That’s hilarious. Would you please go somewhere else? Go ask Don to show you how to use a nailgun or something.

Rotary Cutter – An instrument with an extremely sharp, round blade used for dyeing fabric with blood spots. Be sure to have plenty of extra blades on hand as they tend to chip if they hit bone.

Self -Healing Mat – What you sit on while you dial 9-1-1 after hacking off the end of your finger with the rotary cutter.

Selvedge – The part of the fabric that they always say you can’t use, but which just gets hidden in the seam allowance so what’s the big deal?

Squaring Up – The process of making sure that a quilt block, or a quilt, has straight edges and right angles at every corner. Failure to do so will result in a hefty fine and/or jail time, as determined by the longarmer who is holding your quilt hostage.

Friday, April 9, 2010

So, a "seam ripper" walks into a bar...

(note: for those who are interested, the It's Cherry Pie blog has just been updated)

Posting screeched to a halt this past week as I spent most of my computer time desperately trying to come up with my next article for Quilter's Home. My pieces now need to be around 1000 words, and when you are writing in a niche as small as quilting humor, that can seem like being asked to write War and Peace, only keep it to just war, or really, you know, just the fight you had with your wife about who's supposed to take the trash out.

After days of staring blankly at my computer screen I had two ideas - one which I had started months ago and never went anywhere - and a new one.  Ultimately, the new idea prevailed, and though I would have sworn to you on Tuesday that my career was over, by yesterday afternoon, I had a pretty damn good piece in the can. I sent it off to my editors, who usually email me back saying, "I'll read it soon, I promise!" because they're so busy trying to do the work of 20 people to get this magazine out. But yesterday, I got the first email back within minutes, the other only a few hours later, and both said, (I'm paraphrasing here) OMG, DO YOU SACRIFICE BUNNIES TO SATAN TO BE THIS FUNNY? I love them, I really do, and someday I will sacrifice something to my dark master in their honor.

Progress on the baby quilt continues apace, but it turns out that the person for whom it is intended has been secretly reading this blog for some time now, and so posting any more pictures would spoil the surprise. So this obviously means that I have to go back to figuring out what to make for my plane ticket benefactor, and work on it at the same time so that I have something that is actually quilt-related to write about here (well, other than sex toy hacks).

In other news, my landlord, whom I adore, just asked if we would be interested in purchasing the house we are renting. And I thought, you know, I'm only 40 years old. I'm not sure I'm mature enough to be a homeowner yet, even if I could afford it, which I'm not sure I can. Right now, when the sink clogs, someone else has to fix it. If we own our own house, you know who will be fixing the sink clogs? Me. David's answer would be to go buy caustic chemicals that eat through pipes. Or use another sink. Or move to a motel. I would not only be the sole person in the household who cares about cleaning, but I would have to become the handyman as well, and I don't have time to grout the toilet or scrape the duct bushings, or whatever. I have dildo jokes to write.

Friday, April 2, 2010

But it would be organic goat poop, because I'm thoughtful that way

After the quilt debacle that became a performance art installation, I decided to hold off on that particular project for a wee bit and tackle the next gift quilt I have on my list. An old friend popped back into my life about a week or so before I left to go see my brother, and during the time that we have been estranged, she had a baby girl, who is about 8 months old now. I had longed to make a baby quilt for her but that might have involved some uncomfortable talking and sharing and growing as a human being, which just wasn't what I was into at the time. It was far easier to remain distant, something I am quite good at.

But she reached out and we have been corresponding quite civilly, and so eventually I asked if she would have any objections to receiving a quilt for the baby. Because I have learned my lesson, people. ASK FIRST. She said that they would cherish a quilt, and for a minute I went, "Shit. I was hoping she'd say no." Because now I have to put out, and what if this turns into another fabric massacre and I have nothing to give her except some burned scraps covered in goat excrement? That would kinda suck.

And when I get this uptight about making something, I can't settle on a pattern. I had a pattern I thought I was going to use, but then I read it, and it said that it worked best for fabric that had small motifs or patterns, and of course what I picked does not. If I were a more confident quilter, I could have said, fuck it, Imma do it anyway, but I am not a confident quilter AT ALL. I'm a highly insecure quilter who needs lots of hand holding and back patting and comforting, unhealthy snacks just to make it through a day.

Eventually, I couldn't stand the fabric just sitting there, so I started hacking at it and made it into a bunch of large and small squares, and I'm just going to hope that something good comes out of it by accident. It can't be any worse than the nasty glops you can still see dotting interstate 97 at the Rte. 100 overpass

I'm sure it goes without saying...

...that yesterday's post was an April Fool's joke. Of course, considering the absurd and appalling things I tend to say, it would be remarkable if anybody took anything I say seriously, but you never know. Somebody Googled "the Humdinger Health Aid Corporation," and if I was a committed prankster, I would have purchased that domain name a year ago and created a site just in case anyone decided to look it up. But I am not a committed prankster. In fact I thought of turning a dildo into a seam ripper in the car yesterday morning as I was driving my daughter to daycare. Let's not speculate on what kind of person thinks of turning a dildo into a seam ripper while driving her daughter to daycare. Or what kind of person thinks it's worth alienating half her readership for a dildo joke.

But a quilting-related dildo joke.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New opportunities (NSFW!)

I never cease to be amazed at how the popularity of this humble little blog continues to increase. I do believe my 7 or 8 regular readers may now be more like 10 or 11, my Facebook fan page gets a new subscriber or two just about every day, and even my Google followers have grown just in the last week or so.

So naturally, when you start to see that kind of fame, it's inevitable that advertisers and merchandisers start calling, wanting to get a piece of the Bitchy Stitcher action. Now of course, I wouldn't advertise just anything on this site and I certainly wouldn't put my name on any product that I didn't believe in. So far, the companies that have offered deals for putting the Bitchy Stitcher name on their products have been lackluster at best: hand sanitizer, rock polishing compound, tennis balls, mulch. Nothing, obviously, related to quilting or even that adresses the needs of quilters. I was starting to think that my dreams of a merchandizing empire were eroding away.

Until yesterday.

After I got the kids to bed, I was sitting at my computer, engaged in Round 3 of an email battle I have been waging with my former employers over how much money they still owe me. I was creating a detailed chart showing every paycheck I had ever received from them, the amount, and what time period it covered when I got an email from someone named Rod at the Humdinger Health Aid Corporation. The Humdinger Corp. he said, manufactures products that aid in wellness and relaxation, with particular emphasis on the needs of women who lead stressful lives and need stress-relieving products that are both portable and effective. I would, he said, not only be able to provide such products to my readers with my name and logo on them, but I would also be involved in the design of new products, so that I could ensure that the items I offered to the public would be manufactured with quilters in mind.

So, last night I began thinking about how I would re-engineer one of their most popular products, this battery-operated personal massage device:

You can certainly see why this is a best seller! And as great as I'm sure this tool is, I felt that with a few modifications, it could truly become a quilter's best friend. First, i thought that a rounder end on this part would work well:

Then, I thought the whole think should be more silver and streamlined, for today's modern quilter:

Finally, it needed a killer name to make it fly off the shelves:

Whaddya think?

I'm really excited about this new project so please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts. And who knows, I may be doing a Ripper giveaway soon, so some lucky reader can rip her seams all day in a state of battery-powered bliss!