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Why I cried.

Happiest Season (2020)

I was really excited about Happiest Season. A lesbian romantic comedy Christmas movie? Yes, please! And it definitely made me cry, but I don’t think I cried for the reasons it wanted me to.

This post contains spoilers.

Get Out (2017)

I recently decided to watch Get Out again. For one, it’s an amazing movie and for two, I’m all about that horror. As I was watching it, though, I realized that the central, inciting situation and central relationship have parallels to Happiest Season in a hilarious and disturbing way. Frankly and in short, Get Out does it better.

In both movies, our protagonist is going home to meet their girlfriend’s parents. They’re both supposedly happy couples who are in love and quirky things happen. In both cases, the girlfriend hasn’t told her family about a key part of their relationship – in one, she hadn’t told her family her boyfriend is Black. In the other, she hadn’t told her family that her girlfriend is her girlfriend. Not only that, she lied to Kristen Stewart that she had told them! The Girls actress in Get Out might have been able to fain not knowing it would have been a mess, as she does. Kristen Stewart’s girlfriend can’t.

Get Out is a genuinely funny movie. I had only seen it when it was in theaters until this rewatch and it truly is a perfect movie. It’s funny and scary and a damned masterpiece.

Happiest Season is only funny when Aubrey Plaza is on the screen, and even then it’s more charming than funny. It’s disappointing. All of the potentially funny parts are overshadowed by the emotionally abusive way Kristen Stewart’s girlfriend treats her.

The fact that Get Out’s relationship is better and healthier in the beginning than at any point in Happiest Season is depressing. Not only because the one that gets it right is a horror movie where the girlfriend tried to kill him in the end, but also because it’s supposed to be a gay movie with a happy ending. The Get Out Girlfriend (GOG) seems to be genuinely concerned about the feelings of the protagonist. The Happiest Season Girlfriend (HSG) couldn’t give less of a shit about Kristen Stewart’s feelings or opinions or mental health. And yet, they end up together in the end and the audience is supposed to be glad about that.

Happiest Season wanted me, their target gay viewer, to cry because I finally have a trash movie about a lesbian love story that ends happily. They wanted me to feel seen and consume the movie like candy. This is not why I cried.

I cried because my story is so similar but does not have a happy ending. I didn’t wait to get outed to come out to my conservative family, though that would be a good reason to cry. I came out because I wanted to. My family wasn’t forced to deal with it; they didn’t deal with it at all. I cried because this movie shoved that trauma in my face and from what I hear, this is the reason most LGBTQ+ people don’t like this movie. For some reason, people don’t like light being made of their trauma.

So, while GOG is literally a sadistic murdering crazy person, HSG is an emotionally abusive manipulator and the Get Out couple still seems healthier for much more of the movie. In fact, they did such a good job in Get Out that it’s a twist that GOG is what she is. HSG is abusive from the get. From scene one, HSG disregards Kristen Stewart’s boundaries then proceeds to try to uninvite her to her parents’ house after inviting her the night before, clearly disappointed that Kristen Stewart decided to go. Then we find out that she lied to her about a very major thing at a point where Kristen Stewart can’t bail. Red flags all the way down.

Following these scenes where the loving relationship is supposed to be established is more abuse and manipulation. Watching, I found myself rooting for Kristen Stewart to get with Aubrey Plaza because even though they don’t know each other, at least they aren’t awful to each other.

And Get Out is a better movie.

What did you think of Happiest Season? Comment below with your thoughts.

Love, Madeleine

My second quilt.

How it’s made

It wasn’t too much longer after my first quilt that I made this one.

I have a system for designing quilts now, but at the time I still pretty much shot from the hip. I found quilts on Pinterest.com that I liked and tried to copy them.

Found on Pinterest.com, the exact designer and maker of this quilt is unknown

As you can see, I only did an ok job.

The interlocking hearts was the goal, so since I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) use such small pieces, I decided to just embroider the idea over the two colors. But first, I had to base the colors on something and since this was my older sister’s wedding gift, I decided that was a good place to start. My sister’s favorite colors other than grey include the greens, which was easy to know since I’ve known her for a while. Her future husband’s favorite colors are blue, and therefore I chose these greens and blues for the hearts, each representing the individual. The greys represent their future life together and the opposite color is on either side of the hearts to show further the interlocking of their lives. Symbolism.

The first thing I did before picking out the fabrics or cutting was to find the backing. Similar to my first quilt, I went to a thrift store and found a queen-size flat sheet. This sheet was perfect for my sister because it was grey and made of jersey fabric, which always reminds me of her. Unfortunately for me, jersey is not the easiest fabric to work with and I didn’t know about basting yet either, so I’m sure the back isn’t very pretty to this day. But the nice thing about not knowing anything is that you’re not afraid to do these things. And so, I bought the perfect backing.

This quilt was before I discovered the rotary cutter and the ability to cut not only in straight lines but also bothering to make the blocks the same size. The fact that it came together as well as it did is a miracle.

Knowing that I needed to create seam allowances at this point, I overcompensated from my first one and sewed a 1/2″ seam allowance, which if you’re a quilter you know is double what a quilter will sew. And the top didn’t fall apart, I’ll tell you that much.

I decided to tie quilt because I didn’t think machine quilting or hand quilting was something I could do yet. After sewing the binding by folding the backing over to the front, I sewed cross stitches along the edges. And I was done!

Why it’s made

So, I made this quilt for my older sister as her wedding gift.

I love my sister the way I image most younger sisters love their older sisters. I wanted to be just like her when we were little and as we got older and she went to college and we grew apart, I missed her.

She had been with her now husband for quite a long time by the time they got married and the fact they were getting married wasn’t a surprise; it was a matter of time. But that wasn’t why I wanted to make something special for her. I wanted to make her this quilt rather than getting her a blender because I wanted to express to her how much she means to me. She’s who I looked up to and even though we haven’t lived in the same city in a while, I still love her and want to have a close relationship with her.

What was the first quilt you made for someone you love? Comment below!

Love, Madeleine

Both sides.

In case you somehow missed it, here are some of my thoughts on the attempted coup on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 and a few articles so start it off.

‘Hashtags come to life’: How online extremists fueled Wednesday’s Capitol Hill insurrection

Inside the Capitol: A Photographer’s View of American Exceptionalism Under Siege

EXPLAINER: Breaking down the uncertainty after Capitol siege

I’m so frustrated because the person who said the both sides comment to me doesn’t understand that it’s much more complicated than that.

The way I see it, there are at least six sides in the US right now and that’s probably leaving out some. But the average FoxNews-watching classical republican only sees two sides. The attempted coup was a bad thing Republicans who lost their civility did and the protests over the summer were a bad thing democrats did, according to this person. This thought process isn’t understanding the state of the country at all. It’s not understanding the republican or democrat parties. The republican party is now fully a white supremacist party and the democrats are what the republicans were in the 70s maybe. We further left than that have almost no representation in government.

What happened over the summer was protesting violence. What happened yesterday was acting out violence. I’m proud of the summer BLM protests. Is this Trump supporter proud of what happened yesterday? No, but it shows a basic lack of understanding. We aren’t just in different worlds in the US. There is a basic lack of communication and education happening on the right that doesn’t take into consideration the nuances of the country’s politics.

The person who said this to me isn’t a QAnon person. He’s what I would consider an average republican. Or maybe, he’s an old-school republican. We have views that we disagree on, to the point I try not to talk politics at all with him. But I don’t think he’s irrational. FoxNews and conservative media generally has done a great disservice to our country.

For example, at the beginning of Trump’s administration, I was the one who had to tell him about the horrible EPA and environmental shit the administration was undergoing. As an old-school republican, he thought everyone wants a healthy and safe environment, right? Well, no. Your party has changed. And you probably have more in common with the democrats now than the republicans… But of course, we don’t talk politics so anything is possible.

I’m frustrated.

On a podcast I was listening to, they were saying that this opened up people’s eyes and it must be a rude awakening. This couldn’t be further from the truth based on my conversation with this person.

This person either simply doesn’t understand what is going on or refuses to understand. A group of armed fascists tried to not only steal an election but there is evidence that they were planning on either taking hostages or straight murdering elected officials. And still he said “both sides.”

I don’t think the average person in the US wants this, I’m not even sure the average Trumper wants this, but it is happening and not becoming informed and refusing to see the reality isn’t making it go away.

That is, unless I’m wrong and the average Trumper does want this after all.

Importance of textiles.

[Textile arts] may be viewed as the products of technology, as cultural symbols, as works of art, or as items of trade.  The textile arts are a fundamental human activity, expressing symbolically much of what is valuable in any culture.

Randall Frost, The Significance of Textiles

Textile arts are one of the oldest forms of arts and crafts in human culture.  Textile arts include any kind of art that uses plant, animal, or synthetic fibers to create functional and decorative items.  Anthropologists estimate that early humans created textile pieces for practical purposes, such as for clothing or blankets, as much as 100,000 to 500,000 years ago.  As human culture and thought became more complex, so too did the art created from textiles.

As textiles have been a core of human culture, they have also been core to economic trade throughout the ages.  For example, the Silk Road trade routes brought Chinese silk to India, Africa, and Europe.  Wealthy individuals could obtain these imported textiles for clothing as well as decorative wall hangings, floor coverings, and furniture.  The Industrial Revolution and the invention of such contraptions as the cotton gin lowered the price of textiles so that more of society beyond the wealthy could afford to purchase textiles.  This created the advent of experimentation with textiles outside those of practical objects as was previously seen.

It is important here to mention the feminist and racial history of textile arts, especially in the United States.  Textiles arts have traditionally been considered women’s work, and still to this day the majority of persons who engage with this art form are women.  In fact, engaging with textile arts to this day can identify someone as a member of a particular social class, gender, or status in society.  In the 1960s and 1970s, female-identified artists began to reclaim the field of textile art and elevate it to a form of high art.

The mention of the cotton gin could bring any educated person to a thought of slavery.  The modern cotton gin was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney, during a time of racist and forced slavery in the United States.  Eli Whitney was an inventor who by all accounts came up with the idea for the gin from a slave only known as Sam whose father developed a comb mechanism to separate cotton from the seed. Whitney simply turned this mechanism into a machine.  Without Whitney’s stolen idea, slavery was thought to die out in the United States. However, the cotton gin allowed for plantation slavery to explode: an estimated 4,000,000 humans were subjugated to slavery between the invention and the Civil War in 1861 through 1865. Truly, slavery didn’t fully end until the last slaves were notified of the passage of the 13th Amendment, months after the end of the war, on June 19, 1865.

Understanding this history and how interconnected our cotton is to slavery in the United States requires textile artists to hold anti-racist ideas. 

Anti-racism can be defined as some form of focused and sustained action, which includes inter-cultural, inter-faith, multi-lingual and inter-abled (i.e. differently abled) communities with the intent to change a system or an institutional policy, practice, or procedure which has racist effects.

Anti-racism Digital Library

Arts, crafts, and other creative outlets involving textiles owe much to the labor of the Black community.  This debt can never be repaid, but I will strive to create a space where textile arts are safe for all artists.

To start, here are two organizations I know of doing good work in the quilting space: WCQN and Color of Connection.

In the beginning, all textile art pieces were made by hand and thus were intensely laborious.  Modern use of machines and tools, such as the cotton gin and the sewing machine, has made the process less tedious. With these advances, textile arts are less often a necessity and can be an art of relaxation and creativity.  Textile art includes any artistic process that uses textiles, including: weaving, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, sewing, dyeing, quilting, and various other needle arts not mentioned.

My textile art of choice is quilting, but I also do embroidery and crochet on occasion. What is your favorite textile art? What has textile arts meant to you? Comment below!

Love, Madeleine

Surrender.

How do you experience surrender?

On one of my favorite, all be it frequently emotionally difficult, podcasts, Anna Venezuela (@annavisfun) and Dave Yates (@yatescomedy) interview people about recovery. On Spotify, they explain:

12Q Pod is an in depth look at 12 step recovery culture and an exploration of the world outside of the rooms from the 12 Step perspective. We believe that Recovery isn’t just for Clean and Sober people. Each week Anna Valenzuela and Dave Yates ask interesting people 12 questions about their journey through life.

This post will be the first in a series where I will answer the 12 questions posed on this podcast.


The first question they pose to their guest, who is sometimes anonymous, is: “How do you experience surrender?” My first instinct is: “No. I don’t experience surrender because I’m in control all the time!” I’m terrible with surrender. The more thought I’ve given this, the more I realize this is true.

When I think of surrender, I think of “surrendering to…”. What do I need or want to surrender to? In the 12 steps, the first step is about honesty. It says, “We admitted we were powerless over [substance] – that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is acceptance, sure, but it’s also surrender. Surrender to powerlessness. Surrender to the fact of an addiction. Surrender to vulnerability.

For example, I have a terribly difficult time falling asleep whether it’s for a nap or for the night. When I lie down, all I can do is think about how productive I could be if only I got up. I’ve started telling myself: “It’s ok to rest.” This is only partially helpful. The second I’m finished thinking the word “rest,” I immediately go into thoughts of all the other things I need to do. The thing is, to sleep is to be the most vulnerable and powerless a person can be. It’s all about safety when it really comes down to it.

I do think I’ll get better at resting in time. A method in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is to switch the thought. So, when I’m focusing on how much I need to get up when I lie down and switch the thought to it being ok to rest, it should become easier to believe that rest isn’t only fine, but good. The other switch I make is: “I’m safe.” I remind myself where I am and that I’m safe both physically and emotionally. I need to believe that resting is good, yes, but I also need to believe that I’m safe. An animal that doesn’t feel safe from predators in the wild wouldn’t sleep either.

As I’ve been more aware of this, I’ve seen that this resistance to surrender carries over into other parts of my life. I have a very hard time doing something I don’t want to do. Most of the quilts I’ve made I’ve hand quilted and there’s always a point toward the end of the process where I just don’t want to do it anymore. It’s a problem. I just can’t will myself to surrender to the process or the time it takes.

One cannot even mention vulnerability these days without conjuring Brene Brown. If you haven’t watched Brene’s TEDxHouston Talk called The power of vulnerability yet, please do. She is funny and charming and you’ll learn a lot.

In her talk, Brene talks about shame and vulnerability. Basically, everyone experiences shame for what they think are their faults and people who are “wholehearted” and who therefore are more vulnerable feel less shame. She found that these wholehearted people believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful.

People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.

Brene Brown

I also highly recommend Brene’s podcast Unlocking Us. At the end, during the rapid-fire questions she asks her guests to finish: “Vulnerability is…” Most people say, “hard.” And damned if I don’t agree.

Vulnerability is hard. Vulnerability is admitting I was wrong and taking criticism. Vulnerability is the lump in the back of my throat and the twist in my stomach. Do I have a difficult time with vulnerability because I’m not wholehearted? Is it because I don’t believe I am worthy?

So, I experience surrender (i.e. vulnerability and powerlessness) with difficulty. I don’t want to surrender and eventually I have no choice. I do think that practicing mindfulness and other skills of DBT will come in handy in this journey, but most importantly is learning to love myself. I think that surrender will become easier for me once I believe that I am worthy of love and belonging and vulnerability will become easier, too.

Comment below on how you experience surrender. Is it as difficult for you as it is for me? What have you done that has helped you experience surrender more easily?

Love, Madeleine

My first quilt.

How it’s made.

In the About section, I describe this quilt as a disaster. By quilters’ standards, that is absolutely accurate, but in the end it did end up as a quilt, so, what’s a disaster now? I didn’t follow any quilting rule or common practice and I ended up with an object that is unique, adorable, and fully my own.

The reason for the “disaster” word is that I had no idea what I was doing. I decided to make a full-sized quilt solely because I found a flannel sheet at a thrift store and it was a full-size flat sheet.

Step one: I started by cutting the shapes out of the t-shirts that I wanted to use. Yes, instead of cutting rectangular shapes that will easily go together, I cut around the images haphazardly with the hope that I would be able to put these random shapes together like a puzzle. After cutting out most of the shapes and trying to put them together, I did realize how this was silly. Thankfully, I hadn’t finished cutting out all the shapes and I had some shirts in my closet I was hoping to not cut up and ending up using anyway. Oh well.

Step two of having not a clue happened when I sewed the rectangular, non-cut up pieces together. Most, no, all quilters use a 1/4″ seam allowance. I think I used something like a 1/8″ seam allowance because I had no idea what a seam allowance was. Further, promptly after sewing the pieces, I put the top in the wash. You see, I had a table but for some unknown reason I opted to sewing on the floor. I also had two dogs. This was a hairy situation. I might have washed it a bunch of times actually, I don’t remember, but lo and behold, the seams were separating.

Step three took so long and was so labor intensive. Instead of going back and sewing larger seam allowances I decided to fix this by hand. I took size 8 pearl cotton and proceeded to cross stitch along the seams. Did it turn out very cute? Yes. Was it worth it? Sure.

Step four also took forever and was also a very cute choice. I decided to hand embroider all the odd-shaped pieces to the quilt top, which in itself isn’t a terrible idea. Not knowing what I was doing, I didn’t secure the pieces down at all. See the blue octopus-looking guy in the middle? Notice how part of him is scrunched up in one section? Also, notice how nothing is straight and everything looks sloppy? This is thanks to not securing the pieces down before trying to embroider them. However, a word I could use instead of “sloppy” is “charming” because damn. I think it’s very cute.

Once the top was done, step five if your counting, was to put together the quilt sandwich. “Basting” was not a word in my vocabulary, so I didn’t. I also couldn’t afford to buy new batting at the time and used batting scraps my mom happened to have on hand. “Binding” (step six) was also not a word in my vocabulary, but I did manage to fold the edges and sew them down.

Finally, to quilt the layers, I had to lay the quilt on the floor and secure the sandwich without any of the layers shifting. Not yet knowing any method other than tying it, I tied the quilt with far too few knots so that now after washing a number of times the batting is bunched in a few places.

Done.

Why it’s made.

I shared the above because I didn’t know anything and I didn’t do anything right. Despite this, I am so proud of how the quilt came out. If some of the shirts used weren’t so old they’re starting to fall apart, I would still use the quilt to this day.

That’s because, for one, it’s cute and I put a lot of work into it, but for two, each of the shirts included in this quilt had special significance to me. When I moved out of my parents’ house when I went to college, for some reason I took some of these shirts. I took shirts that didn’t even fit anymore. Some of them I’ve had since middle school.

A t-shirt quilt is such a special thing. It might not be as technically difficult as some other quilts, but every single piece of fabric in it holds meaning. In fact, a t-shirt quilt is the perfect entry point for anyone to quilting because it’s not technically difficult. I literally sewed my pieces sitting on the floor needing only to know how to sew straight lines.

What was your first quilt like? Did you take a class or did you just go for it like I did? Comment below!

Love, Madeleine

Hello.

I have decided to start this website and blog to track my quilts and my life.

I love designing and making these objects that have so much cultural importance. The act of making rather than purchasing an object is a precious thing. I’m located in the United States, and too often our capitalism has ripped this preciousness away from us. I’m hoping to show everyone the power of making – it is therapy, it is comforting, and it is a force for both individual expression and community engagement.

Of course I’m going to write posts about my quilts, the process and the product, but I also hope to write about what quilts and quilting mean to me and other parts of my life as well. I hope to connect with the quilting community in a meaningful way and anyone else who stumbles across this website. Feel free and indeed welcome to comment anything you’d like. This website is an expression and a documentation for me but I hope it will become more for the community as well.

Welcome.