open letter

May 152011

Today we’re going to talk about something I am surprisingly earnest about; stitch in the ditch quilting.

Rant on.

For those of you who already know what this is, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph if you’re in a hurry. If not, read on. Once you have a quilt top finished, a back set up and the batting (wadding for the grey-coloured anglophiles in the centre), then created your sandwich of those three, you are ready for quilting. This is done by stitching through all three layers in various designs, patterns or plans, whether by machine, by hand or some combination or variation. Stitch in the ditch quilting means that the stitching is to be fit IN the seams of the top pieces. Where two pieces of fabric meet, the seam is the ‘ditch’ and the stitches are supposed to fall there. It seems (PUN!) that the stitches are meant to remain unseen, sunk between the seams like that (although most physical evidence is to the contrary). The reality is that the stitches don’t like to funnel themselves into the seam easily.

[Very occasionally, rarely, you will find a definition of stitch in the ditch quilting as BESIDE the joined seams, parallel to the seam and generally to the non-seam folded bulk side. This is not what I or most people consider stitch in the ditch and not at all what I’m talking about.]

So, stitch in the ditch quilting might seem like an easy design and execution choice. You don’t have to measure, there are no lines to draw or mark in any way, minimal spacing decisions are needed and the color of thread merely needs to be roughly similar to your top, as the idea is to hide them. It is simple – and it looks it. Plus, no one can work themselves into too much of a tizzy about whether you hand quilted it or not, as the whole point is to hide the machine stitches in the seams anyhow. Maybe you think that another type of quilting would take away from your top piecing or design. You lovely baker’s dozen of readers understand by now how very lazy I am, but I assure you that this is laziness at an unreasonable cost.

Let me show you this example I saw recently at the quilt show in Loveland.

Close-up of some quilting, both in and out of ditch.
Pretty, right? I took this shot because I loved the metallic thread and the way it sparkled against the top colors. Once I got this close to it, I saw it had a combination of proper quilting and stitch in the ditch quilting.

See the swirls and designs – they’re nice.
Now, see the right side, the barest edge of yellow with the thread right next to the edge. See the circle design, where the patchwork wedge edges meet the outer fabric. Some of the patchwork wedges even have it. The kicker is that this quilter is really good. Her stitches in the ditch are mostly in the ditch. But where they aren’t, they simply don’t look good. They look mislaid.

Well, hell. I find I have no other pictures of how ugly stitch in the ditch can be, so just keep in mind that the photo above is a well done sample. This is the best it would ever look.

And here’s a valid question: if you’re so eager to hide your stitches in a seam, why are you making a quilt? The quilting is one of the beloved characteristics of a quilt. It is the thread evidence of the creator’s hand, a signature over the fabric pieced together.

Besides looking sloppy, the worst part is that stitching the ditch has a chance of stitching through your seam stitches. That needle could hit your thread between the seams, breaking it and unstitching your patchwork seams. You are potentially destroying your own work for no reason.

[Yes, there are a few times you need to actually stitch in the ditch for things like facings, bindings, linings, generally on clothing, but that is not the discussion here.]

In summary, don’t stitch in the ditch. Put on your big girl panties (yes, male quilters, too) and do some real quilting. It will look better and you can feel better about yourself.

I said so.

Rant off.

Jan 122009

Dear Colorado Department of Transportation,

I’m writing (this open letter) to alert you to your severe lack of accuracy in reporting road conditions for I25 south of WY, north of Ft. Collins. When checking road conditions for said location before my travels, your report was for “[wet] [slush]”. This proved to be completely incorrect. You had neither wet roads nor slushy roads on that stretch. What you did have, however, were a few miles of completey dry roads bracketing 12 miles of solid packed snow, a.k.a. ICE. Yes, TWELVE MILES OF ICE!!! Somehow, I think 12 miles of ice would warrant a “[ice]” on your little page. Instead, you had no signs or indications at all. Wait, that’s not entirely true. You did have one sign. One sign, a full mile AFTER the ice which stated “Icy roads, slower speed advised”. Mind you, there was no ice after that sign, only before.

Also, not to rub it in, CO DoT, but WY DoT did manage to have two signs within 11 miles stating “Icy” and “Icy in spots, slower speed advised”. And guess what? That’s what their roads actually had – icy spots. Not clear roads, not solid packed ice, not slush; just what they stated. So don’t try telling me it is impossible to do – because it was done by someone, just not you.

I understand it is silly and naive to think you’ll be able to know the conditions of all of your roads all of the time. But, I think 12 miles of ice would constitute some kind of warning, if only on the website where wary travellers would go to learn such conditions. Also, since 9 miles south into the ice stretch there was a pickup truck upside down in the median with four emergency vehicles and a tow truck – SOMEONE KNEW about the 12 miles of ice. I’m not asking you to predict every single mile of my trip through your pretty state, but if you’re going to have a website with road conditions, it would be good if you could accurately and in a timely manner state those road conditions. I merely want to be a responsible driver through your lands and plan my travels around any ill weather. Like, for instance, 12 miles of ice.

Thank you for your time,

Dec 122008

Photo of Bettie Page, stolen from the internet.

Yesterday, Bettie Page, the absolute goddess of pinup, died. I’m sure many will remember her for her racy dominatrix and bondage photos, but she could have ruled the world with her playful, frolicking shots on the beach, in the home. She was (and to me still is and will always be) the supreme queen of pinup. If I didn’t appreciate her anyway, I would simply because she made her own lingerie. Tough to top.

Photo of Bettie Page, stolen from the internet.

Photos stolen from the internets.


Apr 292008

To the three rednecks in the green Civic this morning: I don’t mind so much that you are baseball cap wearing, scenic-touring idiots, really. I do wish you would go the speed limit though. 20 is not the same as 30. Just 30 mph would be good with me. Thanks.

To the bleached-blond guy who thinks WY is just a less-populated CO and drives a gray Jeep SUV/penis compensation/car/truck/status symbol: when you are in a turn lane, you should watch for a solid green arrow. When someone honks at you for sitting at your green arrow, I recommend looking at the traffic situation instead of glaring at the honker in your rear view mirror while CONTINUING to yap on your cell phone. Also, going 45 in a 30 followed by 20 in a 35 does not balance out. It doesn’t work like that, you loser.

To the junker red sedan who was actually watching for the deer back by the refinery: thank you. I know when it gets really late at night people tend to forget about the deer just because they can’t see them (and speed down the straight bit). I’m very relieved you saw the deer that half jumped in front of you so that I didn’t have to explain to the police/EMT/coroner what happened. Thanks.

Nov 072007

Despicable Mr. Weasel Face,

Hello, I hope you’re having a miserable day. I think you must be, as you are such a miserable asshole and complete loser. I just thought I’d use my fairly anonymous blog here to express my sincere and pure hated of such an oxygen thief as you.

I’m not sure what exactly the root cause of your weaselness is; maybe your mother didn’t love you (don’t blame her on that). Maybe you weren’t breast fed or maybe you were breast fed too much. Perhaps you were dropped as an infant a few times. I suspect you never really recovered from being a loser in public school. That’s too bad – many people learn and grow; it is possible. Maybe you like to torture small animals and are angry that It Is Wrong. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that you are pathetic. You are a sad (probably severely under-endowed), sad, little man. You don’t seem to have any positive qualities. You’ve stumbled about your life and through other people’s lives making things difficult and desperately trying to establish some purpose or meaning for yourself. Let me help you! You don’t have any. You are worthless. The only good thing you could do would be to remove yourself from all contact with other humans. Actually, away from any sentient beings or animals of any kingdom would be better. Plants too. You should give all your possessions to charity and leave for a trek around the world, via the bottom of the great oceans. That would be fantastic. Plus, the oceans can handle pollutants like you. (SHARK BAIT!)

As the cheeky Ymabean likes to say, “He isn’t worth the flesh he was printed on.” I can think of no more apt expression to sum up your existence, blight that it is upon this planet.

Choke and die horribly,

P.S. Don’t walk in front of my car! The temptation to run you down and back over you repeatedly might outweigh the protectiveness I feel for my car and I could end up damaging my bumpers! I don’t want that – you aren’t worth damaged bumpers. You idiot.

P.P.S. Fuck off!

Dear Heat n Bond

Aug 212007

Thank you Therm O Web, for producing such fine products. Your HeatnBond hem tape and rolled sheets have taken me quickly through many otherwise improbable experiments and projects. You enabled me to whip up an entire set of curtains in less than five minutes when I was a teen without a sewing machine. Your iron-on vinyl is a seamstress’s dream.

You gave me fair warning, I know. You clearly stated on your package that I should not stitch through your product. Did I heed your print? No. Warnings? Piffle! I didn’t even blink, but stitched right on through. For a few inches anyway. Fortuantely, I only needed a few inches and that was okay.

Did I pay attention the second time? A little, yes. But really, can you blame me? Products are full of pointless, silly warnings designed to protect companies from the rampant idiocy of a litigious nation. Recommendations are just that – not really requirements. You know how it is. I know, I ended up rethreading my Suzy three times as the embroidery thread broke repeatedly, but I made it through! It couldn’t be that bad!

But, I admit; by the third try, I’ve learned my lesson. Spending half an hour rethreading my entire top and bottom threads four times or so has finally driven the point home. I’m hardheaded sometimes. Stubborn, some say. I yield. I give. I will take your calmly printed advice from here out. I will not stitch through Heat n Bond.

I promise.


These bricks are sound,

Apr 062007

To whom it may concern, or to anyone who can read at your company:

Give it up.

No one believes you are a news station. No one, but the most ignorant of our educational system rejects, honestly tunes to your channel expecting to garner accurate information such as news.

Due to some unfortunate employment choices, there are a few people at my place of employment that continue to tune the cube farm receiver to your station. I hope they are doing it as a nasty little prank, although I fear the hick who believes science is ‘random’ (!!!) is getting hold of the remote somehow. This is how I am regularly subjected to your broadcast dreck. Rest assured, the only reason I’d tune to your channel purposely would be to see what sad, tiny, flawed arguments you are trying to cram into the flaccid brains of your viewers.

On a side note, isn’t it a shame that your regular viewers are such weak-minded twits? Perhaps if they were capable of rational, independent thought, you’d reach your goals faster although it would sharply decline the chances of them listening to you. Quite the conundrum!

Over the period of an hour I was subjected to your ‘newscast’. In this time you have had four topics, all with equal passion. 1. The Howard Stern’s encouragement to sabotage the vote on American Idol – a television show. 2. The proposal to deport Rosie O’Donnell – a television personality. 3. British sailor hostage situation – which somehow was blamed on John McCain by the end of the panel (which was really more of a yelling match). 4. The paternity of a recently deceased celebrity’s child.

I wish you could understand the harm you do to the American people by using your money, power and broadcasting time to run your misinformed, deceptive circus show. If you could only grasp just how much further into the cesspool you pave the American way, ah! if only!!

You are a hopeless cause. You are drivel, trash, the gossip rag of the television waves. You are beyond saving. Your only action towards redemption is to change your name to Fox Propaganda. Please, do so at once.

Ultimately without wax,

Open letter: Just say no!

Jul 062006

I’d like to take this particular pre-movie-opening-night to discuss with you, my dear dozen readers, a serious and significant issue facing Americans today. This will be difficult, so brace yourselves.

First, a confession. Genealogy is a favored hobby in some members of my family and over the last decade or so, my father has done much work in this field. When I visited my parents last year, I got a family history refresher. Among the informational items related to me, my father passed on some tidbits of family history and they were interesting. One tale was of a ship’s captain. Months later, I stumbled across a website with genealogy information for my family name. There were some interesting tidbits. One was of a man disappearing from his family and land, becoming a thief. Months after THAT, I was talking with my father again. I asked him to give me more information on the one that had vanished to become a pirate. Over the phone, I could hear him shaking his head as I’ve seen him do hundreds of times before. He gently informed me I was absolutely wrong. I realized after later research that I’d mixed up the two ancestral tales into one. Seems innocent, if foolish, enough doesn’t it?


This is the terrible threat to each of us. Beware the infiltration of pirates! They are beastly, deviant, dastardly, appalling and they are everywhere! Movies, books, cartoons and more movies. We are surrounded! Inundated! And I’m not even going to mock the innuendo of this:

Potentially interesting wording on a toy.

Do you see it? Detestable pirates everywhere! Pirate parties! [sorry Goddess – yours was a rockin’ time!] Pirate costumes. Pirate bathroom decor! Pirate toys for kids. How can one not begin to think “hey, pirates are cool” and maybe feel okay with that. Stop! Stop now! Stop the pirate madness and join me. Say no to pirates. Pirates are abhorrent and vile! Be strong. Join the fight! Say no to pirates!

Say no to pirates!

See me in person to get your own button and stop the pirate invasion! Or email me your address and I’ll mail you one without cost. That is how dedicated I am to this movement. Don’t let the pirates win!! Say no to pirates! To help you spread the word about the loathsome pirates, here is a link to an informational prevention and awareness pamphlet. Save yourself and your friends!

Jun 042006

Dearest Insomnia,

It’s funny, I knew you’d be coming over last night. I had that feeling. I hadn’t heard from you for a few months and somehow, I expected your arrival. You always arrive at bedtime and you always overstay your welcome.

I’ve known you all my life; we’re old pals, for certain. I often find ways to utilize my time with you to my advantage, by designing plans, getting thoughts in order or taking that time to let my mind wander. But sometimes, I just need sleep. I wish you’d take the message at these times and get out. I’d tried all my subtle tricks, I’d tried focus of concentration. I even considered drugging you with melatonin to get some shuteye, but I refrained from this heavy-handed approach – we don’t need bad relations between us. You just don’t give up, you bitch. Oh yes, I know you’re a woman. You just have that sly and slippery feel of pure woman-ness and men simply don’t have the same touch of evil, theirs is different. You were not welcomed last night as I needed rest and you should’ve simply been on your way.

You are not welcome tonight. Do not think of stopping by, for I will take measures to have you removed, forcibly if needed. Tonight I will sleep peacefully and gain much needed rest. I know I cannot keep you away; I know you’ll be back. I’m not on the outs with you, but I need a night to myself. We’ll meet soon enough again, I’m sure. Be well until then.

Ultimately without wax,

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