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

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!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Bitchy Stitcher Goes BadAss!

YOU GUYS! I am thrilled, pleased, excited, and all around chuffed to announce that starting on July 13, and every second Thursday of the month thereafter, I will be publishing a brand new humor column at BadAss Quilters Society! Head BadAss Maddie Kertay is working to bring lots of new content from some amazing contributors to the free portion of her massively popular website, and when she asked me to be the humor columnist I jumped at the chance.

Now, you know me. I don’t get in bed with just anybody. But I can’t imagine anyone better in this industry for me to partner with. Maddie is a champion of free expression, and y’all know I tend to express myself pretty fucking freely. She’s a southern quilter with a wicked sense of humor so we’re practically sisters (she’s the pretty one). I met Maddie back in 2014 at Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, and after a very, very rough day, I got a text from her inviting me to a nice quiet introvert-soothing dinner in her hotel room. She had no way to know just how bad the day had been or just how much I had fallen apart, but she said she had a feeling I needed a little quiet support and she was exactly right. So, I’m pretty sure she is also psychic as well. And when a psychic southern quilter extraordinaire who makes routine vibrator jokes and encourages everyone to just quilt the way they damn well please says, “Come work with me,” I listen. My mama raised me right.

I am so excited to have the opportunity to bring my twisted sensibilities to a wider audience, and I’m even happier to know that they will all be available to everyone. Be sure to follow me and BadAss Quilters Society on Facebook and Instagram so that you can get notifications each month when a new piece is posted. See you over at BAQS on July 13!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life Update

We have a new addition to our family!

Meet Roscoe:

Roscoe is a butt-ugly La-Z-Boy recliner with a freaking motor because this is what my life has become. I have completely destroyed the delicate feng shui of my studio in order to accommodate this beast and have it situated directly in front of the television. But, no, not because I have given up on life, but because I am having surgery. Again.

If you recall, two years ago I had part of my colon removed for diverticular disease, and though it was technically done laparoscopically, there was still a 5-inch incision in my lower abdomen. Unfortunately, the incision site herniated a few months later and in May of 2016 I had hernia repair surgery. Which was awful. Recovery was far more painful than I had ever anticipated and took a whole lot longer, too. Unfortunately, the surgery didn't work and I now have to have it re-done this Friday.

So Mama's new boyfriend is this insanely comfortable chair which for the next 2-4 weeks I will only leave in order to pee and if I can find a way around that I will. I distinctly remember the first day after the last surgery, having my husband help me out of bed so I could get to the bathroom, and I thought the pain might make me pass out, and when I finally got to the bathroom, all of that hurt so much I basically just sat there and cried. SO FUN!

Besides watching a metric shit-ton of TV (I have been saving a whole bunch of good stuff to watch), I hope to get some writing done since I now have an iPad/keyboard writing system that works. Details are still to be worked out, but if all goes well, I may have a new venue for some of that writing! Plus, I have another surprise in store, which I will hint at here:

Remember, if you subscribe to my newsletter, you will be the first to know about it and get special pricing. (And if you are worried about junk mail, if you sign up for my newsletter, I don't do ANYTHING with your email address other than send you my newsletter, and I do not send out tons of them.) And Instagram is where you will see any quilty/stitchy projects in progress, and there should be one that gets finished from my sick bed, so come find me over there: @thebitchystitcher!

Wish me luck and I'll see you in July!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Quilters Unite!

Oh, dear.

Yesterday Facebook was all up in arms because it had been discovered that some people had started a secret Facebook group just for quilters who identify with one end of the political spectrum and wanted to have a place to talk smack about the people on the other.

Except, they didn't just talk smack, apparently. They also in at least two cases, tried to get people fired. And, as though they wanted to offer up a gift to comedy writers everywhere, in one case they tried to write to a particular quilter's boss but because he is self-employed they were actually writing to the quilter himself! You cannot make this shit up.

More than enough attention has been given to these people already, but I just have to say one thing. And I know you all know this already—I mean, you are my readers, so you're pretty much the smartest, savviest internet users out there—but all of this political rage, this need to talk about The Other Side as though it is comprised of mostly pedophiles and serial killers, is being fueled, at least in part, by Facebook itself because it makes you stay on Facebook longer and see more ad stuff! Every time you scroll through your feed and you see some link to some article that's probably not even straight up reporting from a major news outlet, but is some off-brand site, your heart rate goes up just that tiny bit because the headline was written in a very particular way in order to make that happen, in order to make you feel aggrieved and insulted. Because when you feel aggrieved and insulted you start looking to your peers to bolster you, to shore you up in the face of so much travesty, and because they are also aggrieved and insulted, they do! On Facebook! And now you've all been on Facebook far longer than you would have been if you were just looking at pictures of people's chickens and you've been exposed to 20 ads instead of 2.

I also don't have to tell you that treating half the country like they are all pedophiles and serial killers doesn't actually change anything because IT'S HALF THE COUNTRY. If you get all mad and call me and all my friends stupid doo-doo heads, it doesn't make us all go, "Huh! Why yes. We ARE stupid doo-doo heads! Thank you for pointing that out! We will now completely change." No, if you call us stupid doo-doo heads, we are just going to hunker down and become more firmly rooted in whatever it is we are doing that is making you call us doo-doo heads. We can always find oh, roughly 159,000,000 other doo-doo heads to hunker down with.

And also—and again, I know you know all this but I just can't help myself—it's basically common knowledge that the best way to encourage and maintain group cohesion is to have a common enemy. So, the fact that we are all human beings who want to be safe and free and happy and want a better world for our children doesn't mean shit if we can divide up into teams and hate each other over how best to accomplish that instead of, I don't know, debating the finer points like intelligent adults or something. You are more likely to get up off your butt and vote if your vote is not just for something but also against something—or someone—else, like stupid serial killer doo-doo heads.

But I get it. I do. Hating people is fun and there seems to be a deep, primal need for it. So if we do need a common enemy to fight, we need to keep sight of what's truly important here: quilting. Are we really willing to let the entire quilting world go to war against itself and tear apart over politics? I mean, the slime alone could ruin your stash, and then where would you be? Alone and sad, with a slimy stash, that's where.

I say that we are at a crossroads. We are witnessing a threat to the very fiber of our quilty existence, but we can't exactly unite against politics itself. (See above, re: slime) But we can unite, as quilters—whether conservative, liberal, libertarian, green, socialist, Marxist, or serial killer doo-doo headian—against the real enemy: A Different Crafter Group. Which one? Doesn't matter! Let's just pick one and start a campaign to trash talk them into oblivion! It'll be fun and cathartic and we can go back to appreciating each other for our beautiful quilts and stop hating each other for manufactured bullshit that has nothing to do with quilting and everything to do with lining someone else's pockets. Here are some options:

  • Knitters. So, what the hell is the deal with knitters, right? All they're doing is knotting up a bunch of string with pointy sticks like that actually accomplishes something. I mean all that string doesn't even have any animal motifs on it! You can't exactly slap a deer head on a pile of twine, can you? And do you know what they call it when they screw up and have to unknot a whole bunch of knots? Frogging. So, you know, they're probably all French too. Assholes. 
  • Polymer Clay artists. Oh, so you basically fart around with Play-Doh and ruin perfectly good pasta machines, and we're supposed to be impressed? Can your stupid beads keep someone warm? Can you wrap someone in love with your dumb animal figurines? No. No you cannot. Shitheads. 
  • Woodworkers. One word, just one: sawdust. Asshats. 
  • Hand letterers. Goddamn calligraphers with their fancy pens and and their swirly words that nobody can even read. Since when is that loopy monstrosity an "R", for fuck's sake? Look, just because you can write a Gandhi quote that probably was actually said by Mussolini or somebody in pink princess cake lettering with glitter accents doesn't mean you should. Losers. 
  • Cross stitchers. Oooh, look at me, I'm cross stitching: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. I would do some more, but I just bored myself into a coma. Dipshits. 

SEE? ISN'T THAT FUN? Just think of the possibilities here. We could start our own not-so-secret Facebook group where we could freely insult our chosen enemy. We could come up with a super cool name, like Several Quilters United Against Bullshit (SQUAB for short) and print up t-shirts and buttons and when we wear them and people ask us about it we can be all, "Oh, it's because I'm against bullying or bake sales or something" but really it's all about hating on the stupid knitters or potters or cake decorators or whatever it is we all finally decide on.

And if we're really lucky, we'll get them to form their own group to hate on US! Because what's the point of coming up with really clever, funny insults if your target isn't going to cleverly insult you back?

I'm telling you, this could usher in a new era of peace and understanding. Among quilters anyway. And isn't that what really matters?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Sea of Serpents

WARNING! Stylized and colorful representations of snakes below!

I made a quilt. I call it The Sea of Serpents.

Are you afraid of snakes? A lot of people are. One day, I was coming home from a walk and I saw a neighbor at my door. I called out to her, and she turned around and said, breathless, "Oh, Megan! Thank goodness! Is David home?"

"Yeah, he's working from home today."

"Is he scared of snakes?"

Now, I actually have no idea whether David is scared of snakes, but I knew he didn't have time to deal with one, so I told her, "I have no idea but I'm not!"

She told me her husband was out of town and a snake had gotten into their finished basement and she couldn't get it to leave. It had crawled up and into a corner between the fireplace and a wall and nothing she did would make it come down. So I said, okay, let's see what we can do.

But as we were headed over, my neighbor Sam returned from his run and she saw him. Believing, I suppose, that a man was better equipped to brave the big, bad boa in her den than little old me, she appealed to him for help instead and he, despite being terrified of snakes himself, managed to find some sort of long tong-type things and grab the poor little guy (he was quite small) and toss him out into the backyard. There may have been high-pitched squealing, not by me.

Sigh. I really wanted to touch the snake.

There are approximately 2600 species of snakes (that we know of) in the world, and about 400 of those are venomous, or about 15% In the United States, we have about 130 snake species, and 21 of them are venomous, 16%, and these are mainly in the groups of rattlesnakes, coral snakes, water moccasins (also known as cottonmouths), and copperheads.

It is estimated that roughly 5 people per year in the United States die of snake bite. Five. To work my famous math skills again, that's like a fraction of a fraction of a percent. Now there are somewhere in the range of 1000 to 8000 bites from venomous snakes per year, and that's a slightly bigger percentage of the population, like a bigger fraction of a fraction. (Stop me if all my crazy math is too much.) Even if you get bit, you probably won't die, because anti-venom is readily available.

And some people want to kill every snake they see.

The thing is, you have a much greater chance of being hit by lightning or of dying from a bee sting than from a snake bite. Snakes, for the most part, (I can't speak for that one copperhead on my parents' deck that one time—he was looking shifty) aren't sitting around going, WHO CAN I KILL TODAY? Well, they are, but only in a what's-for-lunch sort of way, not in a murder-murder-kill sort of way. They're not legless psychopaths.

It's very easy to be afraid of every single snake that exists just because a very small number of them will bite you if they think you will do them harm. But we are human. We have consciousness and reason, and we have the capability of ameliorating our own fears through understanding.

But most of all, if they are not all out to get us (and they aren't), and if they are not a vital food source for us (you can eat snake, but not many do), then I say, let them live. Better yet, let's learn to appreciate them. They really are quite beautiful.

Especially in quilty form.

The Sea of Serpents is an appliqué quilt of my own design. The beautiful longarm quilting was done by Amy Helton, whom you can find on Instagram as @longarmyogigal. I am working on a little story that goes along with it and you may not like it. It's not even remotely funny. But when I am done with it I will link to it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It will.

The comedy gods smiled upon me today.

One of our toilets started running and the plumber came this morning. He's been here before and is a pretty affable guy. He rooted around in the tank for a while, and seemed to have fixed the problem, but he kept standing there looking at it and shaking his head ruefully.

"Problem?" I asked.

"How long have you had this toilet?"

"Um, we've lived here 8 years—I have no idea how long it was here before that."

He sighed. "Do you have issues with it? Like, you know, stuff not going down?"

"Oh yeah, all the time."

"Well, technically, it's fixed, but I've gotta tell you—you've got an inadequate flapper."

Dear Reader, I lost it. Just cracked up. And if you know me, you know that I'm actually quite shy in real life and I don't joke around with people I don't know. But I couldn't help myself.

"Dude! I can't believe you just called my flapper inadequate. That's a hell of a thing to say to a lady. Didn't your momma raise you better?"

Now he's laughing, but trying to explain why this particular brand and model toilet sucks, and what we should get instead if we ever need to replace it, but all I can do is think about the phrase "inadequate flapper." Finally, he leaves and tells me to have a real nice day.

"I will! Well, you know, as much as I can with an inadequate flapper." I watch him laugh and shake his head at the strange lady as he walks back out to his truck.

I tell you all this just to warn you that this phrase may pop up again here and there.

"Dammit, my machine isn't working right." "Yeah, it's probably an inadequate flapper."

"When you're paper piecing, shorten your stitch length and make sure your flapper is nice and adequate."

"Did you hear about the 20s-era woman who couldn't make it as a party girl? She was just an inadequate flapper."

And, of course:

"Thanks for the unsolicited dick pic, dude, but it looks to me like you've got yourself an inadequate flapper there."

So, now you have been duly warned. And you'll know what the hell I'm talking about if it comes up again.

Which it will.

Oh, yes. It will.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

At least the bunnies are on fire

Note: I wrote this right after spring Quilt Market LAST YEAR then tucked it away in the drafts folder. My drafts folder is strange place where posts disappear for awhile, then pop up again months later, asking, "Why have you never published me?" Well, I'm publishing you now, little bunny post.

Remember back in my April Fool's post when I said the next animal trend in quilt fabric would be bunnies?



House of Hoppington - Violet Craft for Michael Miller

Luna Sol - Felice Regina for Windham

Nightfall - Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery

Dutch Treat - Betz White for Riley Blake
(okay, it's mostly birds - but the bunnies are in there!)

Thicket — Gingiber for Moda

Wonderland - Melissa Mortenson for Riley Blake

Slow and Steady - Tula Pink for Free Spirit

I've been scouring all the photos coming out of Quilt Market this past week (plus, I pay attention in general so I knew about a few of these already) to document all the bunny fabrics I could find that are debuting there. Obviously, I was not disappointed. And for all I know, there are more that I just haven't found yet.

Now, before everybody starts hippity hopping up my butt about this—I like bunnies just fine. I'm not saying you can't like bunnies. I mean, they're super cute. They're also poop factories with weird pee, but if that's your thing, I ain't judgin'. You can bunny up all your shiz and I will not say ye nay. And all of these fabrics are really quite lovely. I will most likely be getting some of them myself (those first two kinda rock and just the colors on the second one make me swoon). No, this isn't about me rolling my eyes and going, "Ugh, bunnies, amirite?" This is about one thing. I just want to know, I STILL want to know:

Is there a secret mystery society—a shadowy cabal, if you will—that decides these things? Are there confidential, closed-door meetings where cigars are smoked and whiskey is imbibed and money changes hands in locked briefcases? Is the Next Animal Trend in Quilt Fabric decided via some sort of sinister lottery, or maybe even just by the roll of a solid gold die on the naked belly of a high-priced escort? And then how does the decision about The Final Animal make its way down to the designers themselves? Are all fabric designers given a special phone, one not to be used for any other purpose, that only rings when it is time to be told The Sacred Creature? Or does it happen via subliminal messages, with images of The Chosen Beast placed seemingly at random in the designers' everyday worlds until they are each inspired, nay—COMPELLED to recreate it in quilt cotton? 

Or maybe they all have alien implants. Somebody should check that.

Now I understand that trends are trendy for a reason. I don't necessarily know what that reason is, mind you, just that in some psycho-sociological study out there I am sure one has been posited. It probably has something to do with feelings of familiarity combined with wanting to feel like a part of a special group combined with apparent novelty plus not wanting to miss out on stuff. Or something. Plus, if it looks like the quilt fabric-consuming public is eating up the rabbits with a spoon, so to speak, then more manufacturers are going to want to get on that—which is why we'll probably see even MORE fluffy bun-buns next year. It's just that, being the curious and cynical sort, I'm truly fascinated by watching the process unfold. I noted the deer trend only after it had already reached Peak Antler, so I didn't really get to see how and when it started. I didn't know, and couldn't really deduce, if it sprang from one line, one designer, or if, as may be the case here, there was a moment when several people had similar ideas at roughly the same time. Now I have a chance to see if this is truly the beginning of a major cottontail happening—if these rabbits will reproduce like, well, rabbits—and you can rest assured that I will be reporting periodically on this story as it develops.

For Incredibly Unimportant News Network, I'm Megan D. Good night, and good wabbit hunting.

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