Archive for the ‘Quilting’ Category

Time for Traditions

December 12, 2018
Lani Longshore tradition-turkey-12-12-18

I am just about ready to start my holiday baking, and decided to use my quilt guild’s Unfinished Quilt Challenge to guide me. I bought a chocolate turkey for a Thanksgiving decoration but had no clear plan for what to do with it after Thanksgiving. Yes, I intended to eat it, but how? It’s a solid little bird, and I had no desire to be gnawing on it until Easter. Then I remembered the challenge, and how we were advised to repurpose old projects so we would have a reason to finish them.“Self,” I said, “repurpose that turkey into fudge.” My mom used to use a stick of butter, a bag of marshmallows, and a bag of chocolate chips to make a quick candy. I figured I could do the same, but I cut the marshmallows down to half a bag (because that’s what I had). Add a few maraschino cherries while it’s setting up, and you’re done.

Luck and wisdom!

Can I Have Enough Bling?

December 5, 2018

I have a reputation for embellishing a project to within an inch of its life. While I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, I do love bling on my art quilts. The quilt I’m working on now, however, may shake my style.

This is a block in my Progressive Party project on the theme of The Mummy (1932, starring Boris Karloff). The quilt is gorgeous, but I’ve found that beads (or sequins) can enhance almost anything. It appears I’ve met the exception to that rule. I put a row of sequins on the eyelid of this block and thought, “Self, that’s enough.”

I went to another block, one with lots of empty space, and started beading. Now this block is whispering that I should stop. So far I’m listening, but it is rather a shock to think I’ve got a quilt with enough bling.

Luck and wisdom!

What Your Tools Say About You

December 3, 2018

I have collected cookie cutters most of my adult life, although I rarely use them outside of the Christmas baking season. They’ve come in handy for quilting designs, so I don’t feel too guilty about the number of cutters I’ve acquired. Still, your tools tell people something about you. My husband and I have been writing family biographies, and we’ve been amazed and amused at the tools our relatives collected, kept, and used.

As a novelist, I have given my characters something interesting to use in order to give the reader a better understanding of who these people are. Once I’ve decided what I want the reader to know, I insert the proper tool. My quilting heroines, for instance, use fabric, thread, and scissors in various scenes. As a biographer, I have to work backwards. I need to tease out what the tool meant to my relative based on what I remember and the stories told to me so I can better understand who this person was.

So here’s the deal, should anyone want to write my biography through the lens of my cookie cutters. I like bright, shiny things. I like tiny, cute things. I like cookies. And that’s really all these tools say about me.

Luck and wisdom!

The 3 Laws of Scrap Dynamics

November 21, 2018

I have completed twenty (20!) projects since beginning the Unfinished Quilt Challenge, with no real increase in storage space apparent in my sewing room. It seems that there are laws of scrap dynamics at play here.

Law 1

Scraps are the logical and inevitable result of creativity. No matter how tidy your original stack of fabrics, it will always result in an unruly collection of leftover pieces (even if the project is completed). Since this is going to be your fate, embrace the mess.

Law 2

You can’t get rid of scraps on your own. The picture above is the fourth top to come out of a collection of pink and brown fabrics that I figured would be used up in one quilt. The key here is to find someone or something to help. The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has encouraged me to use any and all leftovers in donation quilts. That has given me the courage to continue piecing tops and backs from collections that by all rights should be used up by now, and to tell the committee that distributes donation quilts that I will have several ready for them after the first of the year.

Law 3

Scraps and creativity exist in equilibrium. The more creative you are, the more scraps you have, or find. I thought I would be clever and use some scraps from other projects in this top. I thought I would clear out one scrap bag (I used maybe a quarter of a yard), and I found a forgotten bag of scraps tucked behind the one I was raiding.

For me, the moral of the story is unclear. Perhaps one of you has a sure-fire way of getting rid of scraps?

Luck and wisdom!

Improv Art

November 14, 2018

The improvisational piecing panels swam to the top of the nearest pile in the sewing room, so I finished the quilt.

I knew I wanted to do something with the raw edges of the panels, so in the true spirit of improvisational art I used what was at hand. Some thick embroidery thread and beads left from another project either had to go in the very next project or be put away. You don’t need to be psychic to guess what I did.

I’m pleased with the quilt, but I do wish I knew why this one worked and other improv pieces I’ve tried didn’t. Perhaps the stars were in alignment, perhaps I’m honing in my signature color palette, perhaps I like it because people I’ve shown it to like it. Fortunately, I have lots more scraps for more experiments.

Luck and wisdom!

A Journey With Embroidery

November 7, 2018

There is something about embroidery that turns my fingers into a (nearly) perpetual motion machine. The top for On To Africa needed more embellishment, so I started adding a few lines of embroidery here and there. Before I knew it, the journey to a quilting-ready top was finished.

One side of the top is more heavily embroidered than the rest, but I’m okay with that. Most of this work was done by another artist (and I still don’t know who – none of my friends remember where I got the blocks either), and I’m perfectly content to let her work get all the attention.

I first thought I would leave the center appliqued panel alone, and fill in the open space with quilting. Then I realized the jacquard will absorb all the quilting, so I might as well embroider the living daylights out of it.

Shameless self-promotion alert, embroidery on the journey into space is a pivotal plot point in The Chenille Ultimatum. If you need a good giggle, give the book a try.

Luck and wisdom!

Tree Series – Experiment

October 24, 2018

Since one of my art quilt groups is exploring theme – and I had some scraps available – I decided to start that tree quilt series I’ve been talking myself out of doing for who knows how many years. I made small panels using improvisational piecing and quilted a tree on one. I showed the group my panels, and they thought I had a good beginning. They suggested floating the panels on an underquilt. Here’s what I have so far:

Better 1?

Better 2?

The big lesson in this experiment is that I am a lot more courageous when I don’t have a huge emotional investment in the fabric I use for art quilts. Of course, that means the lovely pieces I have collected are still languishing in the drawer, but at least I am using my scraps!

Luck and wisdom!

On To Africa

October 17, 2018

The expedition in my sewing room took another turn. I finished a simple pieced quilt, and now must start pulling random blocks, most with African-themed embroidery, into a coherent piece. This is the finished quilt:

These are the blocks that need organizing:

I appliqued the tree block and made most of the embroidered blocks, although a few were done by someone else. I don’t remember how I managed to acquire the patterns, thread, and partially completed blocks. Perhaps I bought them at a silent auction, perhaps they were given to me by someone who knows I like to embroider, perhaps they were left on the doorstep in the dead of night (no, I would probably remember that).

In any event, this is my next project, and On to Africa is the working title.

Luck and wisdom!

Coast to Coast with Confidence

October 10, 2018

In one of those moments when the universe says, “Just get on with it,” the quilt I absolutely, positively had to finish was the one with the heron. I’ve called the quilt Coast to Coast, and it was just the confidence boost I needed.

Quilted, bound, and labeled

My foot still doesn’t like to be down for any length of time, but I had to change threads often for this quilt. What under ordinary circumstances would have been discouraging turned out to be practical – thirty minutes with my foot down, ice and rest, repeat. Even with all the thread changes, the quilting went much faster than I expected.

The dreaded heron and the many quilting threads

I also made a feature out of a bug by using yellow thread around the center of the flowers. My original intent was merely to hide the little boo-boo when the yellow meandered over the black, but I like it better this way.

The pattern called for one tree and a house, but I made three trees representing the palm trees, deciduous trees, and pine trees that can be found together on every street in my town.

This quilt was years in the making, since I was afraid to make the appliqued heron, nervous about changing the pattern, and concerned that I really couldn’t put all three Row By Row kits together to make a coherent piece. Furthermore, I was truly terrified that my injury wouldn’t let me get back in the sewing room at all, much less in time to finish the quilt for the guild Unfinished Quilt Challenge. Because of my fears, once I got started Coast to Coast became a huge confidence builder.

Luck and wisdom!

Halloween – My Second Favorite Holiday

October 3, 2018

It’s week 2 of recovery for my ankle, and I still haven’t been able to do anything in the sewing room. Luckily, it is also October and time for Halloween. I love Halloween for the kitsch, the candy, and the costumes. I also like Halloween accessories, like this keychain.

I think this one might breathe fire with the “Boo!”

The keychain will go nicely with my Halloween handbag. I made it from one of my many collections of Halloween fabric.

I still spend a good part of my day with my foot elevated, but at least now I have monster movies to enjoy.

Luck and wisdom!