Posts Tagged ‘challenge project’

The Practical Side of Creativity

November 12, 2014

Creativity starts with asking “what if” – for example, “What if I crushed the leftover Whoppers from Halloween and made cookies?” Since we had a lot of them, I figured there was no real downside to experimenting.

The candy known in my house as Whackers

The candy known in my house as Whackers

Who knew that those chocolate-covered things turned into a wonderful flour? They also make a satisfying crunch when you whack them with a rolling pin, which helps with stress management. I substituted half a cup of finely crushed Whoppers for regular flour in my basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the results were great.

Lani Longshore cookies

The next “what if” question I tried was, “What if I make the letter Challenge project with one of my grandmother’s leftover embroidered pieces and name it Jardin de Grand-mere?” Never mind that my grandfather was the one who did most of the gardening, or that the only connection my grandmother had to anything remotely French was that she would make frog’s legs every summer – for the annual fish and frog fry. Jardin begins with “j” so it fits the challenge, and I used a lovely bit of embroidery for which I had no other project.

Lani Longshore quilt Jardin de Grand-mere

Here is my grandmother’s work:

Georgia Wright Longshore did beautiful work

Georgia Wright Longshore did beautiful work

So it appears, wonder of wonders, that you can be both practical and creative.

Luck and wisdom!

In A Safe Place, Or Abandoned?

October 22, 2014

The new Challenge is an alphabet project. I drew the letter ‘J’ and so my quilt will be based on a ‘J’ word. Funny how all the ‘J’ words disappeared from my head as soon as I drew my card. I had to sit down with a dictionary and pad of paper. I came up with a few ideas, then realized I already had the perfect project.

Notes to self

Notes to self

Years ago I bought fabric and paints for a jazz-themed quilt that would feature a stylized woman’s head. I looked at that collection a long time before I admitted that my drawing skills weren’t up to the task. Then I put the bag away. In a safe place.

I didn’t have the moral fortitude to take apart the entire sewing room looking for that bag. The best I could manage was to poke at the bags within reach. No luck. “Self,” I said, “pull up your big girl britches and look again.”

This time I tackled a pile of “lightning” fabric – stuff I thought would go in a project I might do soon if lightning struck and the perfect project revealed itself. Some of the pile went into other project bags, but most of it turned out to be more pink fabric (one of these days I really have to stop buying pink fabric because as I keep telling myself I am not a pink person).

Pink fabric in a pink crate - but I'm really not a pink person

Pink fabric in a pink crate – but I’m really not a pink person

The jazz fabric still eluded me. In desperation born of the horrible memory of letting the project go, I looked in the neutral drawer. Tucked in the corner was a remnant that sorta kinda maybe reminded me of the background fabric I wanted to paint.

Base fabric for the jazz project

Base fabric for the jazz project

So the question is, will I find the original jazz project materials in a safe place, or did I abandon it?

Luck and wisdom!

Small Quilts, Large(ish) Stash

October 1, 2014

The Challenge project for this month commemorates the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner, and includes a size requirement – at least 42″ on a side. “Self,” I said, “if you make the project a little larger you can turn it into a Quilt of Valor donation. You have too large a stash to make only small quilts.” Turns out, there’s a reason I make small quilts.

One more border, then backing and quilting

One more border, then backing and quilting

Large quilts are a pain in the patoot. And the shoulders, and the arms and hands. Slinging around long strips, cleaning off the ironing board to press the thing properly – yowza! I much prefer the elegantly tiny postcard quilt my friend Thea McCurry sent me.

Thea McCurry's creation

Thea McCurry’s creation

However, thanks to the excellent taste of the quilt store owners in my area, I have a lot of fabric to go through.

The purple drawer

The purple drawer

So, do I make myself a dozen more tote bags, blanket the country with postcard quilts, or stop my whining and make a few more large quilts to give away?

Luck and wisdom!

Ahead of Schedule

April 9, 2014

 

This has been one of those weeks where I check the calendar twice to make sure I haven’t forgotten something. Projects for friendship groups? Check. Deadlines for bills? Check. Short story for anthology submission? Check. The squirrelly part of my brain is chittering, “What are you forgetting? What are you forgetting?”

Until I figure out what I’ve forgotten, I’m collecting fabric for the next projects on the list.

Christmas project, take one

Christmas project, take one

This is the first run at my mother’s Christmas present. She sent me a sample of the colors she wanted. The peach is the right shade, but I’m not sure it is the right print. The luxury of knowing I have time to find a better fabric is worth more than chocolate.

The little scraps will find a home

The little scraps will find a home

The next Challenge project is on the theme of water. I have had this box of sky and water scraps sitting on the shelf for a very long time. It was high on the list of boxes that had to be cleared out. The joy of having one’s procrastination rewarded is almost as wonderful as the luxury of extra time.

Luck and wisdom!

 

Spring Cleaning

April 2, 2014

 

My stash is full of fabric meant for the perfect project. Backs do not count as the perfect project, which is silly, because even art quilts have their backs showing sometime. Still, it’s hard using the good stuff. Then I put fabric away before going on to the next step in my second Challenge project and heard the voices of all the wise quilters I know. It’s all good stuff, I might as well use it, and spring cleaning is a great excuse to make me use it.

Lani Longshore beet fabric

My second Challenge project for the Easter assignment is based on Russian Orthodox symbols – the Orthodox cross and the habit of dying Easter eggs a deep red (Ukrainians dye pysanky, the elaborate wax resist eggs). Since I grew up eating borscht, I know all about the Russian connection to beets. I unearthed my beet print fabric, used it for the back of the quilt, and used the pattern for my quilt design.

The eggs will come later, along with beads and embroidery

The eggs will come later, along with beads and embroidery

The next bit of cleaning was an experiment for my tree series. The Progressive Party is doing a tree block project later this summer, and I thought I would use a variety of scraps for the trunks. The experiment worked fine, but I realized the trees I made would be way too big for the blocks. A writing friend, Shelia Bali, gave me some fabric (I’m not the only one doing spring cleaning) and one piece was perfect for a background. I decided to choose the scraps I would use, not just take what was near the top of the basket.

Lani Longshore trees

Finally, I cleaned out enough of the green drawer to get a collection of good stuff for the Progressive project.

Assorted greens and background

Assorted greens and background

The fabric hasn’t told me how it wants to be used, but it is very happy to be out of that drawer.

Luck and wisdom!

 

Boxes

March 12, 2014

A friend of mine held an estate sale a few months ago. I helped out a little, and as one of the thank-you gifts she let me take what I fancied. Tucked away in the kitchen were some darling pink lunch box organizers, and a single pink tea cup with a saucer. I pounced on those like a cat on mice. This week, I made a container for them.

 

A little fabric, a little stiffener, a lot of zig-zagging

A little fabric, a little stiffener, a lot of zig-zagging

 

Since all the items are pink, I grabbed the top of my pink pile and made panels. The pink cord came from the local army surplus/camping gear store. You’d be amazed at the cool stuff for quilters you can find at those kinds of stores.

 

The box itself is simple to make – fabric on both sides of stiffener, zig-zag cording around the edges, zig-zag the panels together. I used the diameter of the plate to establish the size of the panels. I wanted the plate to slip in elastic straps on the outside.

 

Sew a tube, scrunch it, insert elastic.

Sew a tube, scrunch it, insert elastic.

 

The best part of the elastic straps is that I used a strip of non-roll waistband elastic that was too long to throw away but not long enough for most other projects.

 

Criss-cross straps for extra hold.

Criss-cross straps for extra hold.

 

Here are the treasures for my lunch box.

 

My treasures

My treasures

 

Here is the kit all packed and ready to go.

 

My lunch

My lunch

 

While I was making the box, my eye fell on a pile of solids cut in diamonds that I’ve been moving around the sewing room for years. They are so old I don’t remember how I acquired them, although I can guarantee I did not cut them out myself. The latest Challenge project is to represent Easter in fabric. “Self,” I said, “let’s think outside the box about the Easter project.”

 

Let the satin stitching begin!

Let the satin stitching begin!

 

Since I had been zig-zagging like a tipsy bumble bee, I brought out some Pellon Decor, arranged the diamonds on top of it, and dialed down the stitch length. Once that was finished, I dug out a novelty fabric from the back of a drawer.

 

And now to fussy-cut.

And now to fussy-cut.

 

The next step is to apply a fusible backing and cut out egg clusters to arrange artfully over the surface, but that’s a story for another blog.

 

 

Luck and wisdom!

 

Another Take On Independence Day

July 3, 2013

I will celebrate Independence Day with more than usual exuberance this year. I finished the quilt for my brother’s second grandson, which means I am ready for my trip home next week.

Lani Longshore Avery Longshore's quilt

To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had the gift quilts ready before a flight someplace. Usually I am stitching the binding while waiting for the final boarding call.

Coincidentally, my Challenge project is mostly finished.

Lani Longshore Challenge project

I would like to do more beading, but the quilt is starting to tell me there are sufficient embellishments right now, thank you very much. My quilts have always told me what they want, but lately they’ve become down right mouthy.

Still, I’m reveling in the unexpected sensation of having things done. I don’t imagine this is what the signers of the Declaration of Independence were feeling, but I think celebrating freedom from the to-do list is a lovely way to enjoy the 4th.

The Surface of Infinity

April 17, 2013

The title of this blog is the theme of the next Challenge project. I’m not complaining (mainly because it is my idea) but I wish I had known before I issued it that the universe was just messing with me. I read the line in a book about philosophy, science and religion and lost all track of the argument being presented as I considered what the surface of infinity would look like if translated into fabric. I even had an idea of where to start . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My personal challenge for the last few years has been to make the assignment from fabric I’ve already got. I give myself extra points for adapting a project I had already started. My plan for this assignment was to use my extensive collection of gray fabrics, maybe even create a gray series. As well as the fabrics from my gray tote bag, I also had these:

 

gray fabrics

 

 

gray fabrics

 

As I separated the fabrics, waiting for them to tell me what to do, I noticed one of the pieces had a little bit of pink. That reminded me of my pink, black and gray collection:

 

pink and gray fabrics

 

– and my pink and brown collection:

 

pink and brown fabrics

 

So I guess my assignment should have been called “the surface of infinite possibilities” – which, now that I think of it, is a very good description of my sewing room.

 

 

 

 

 

Glass

March 20, 2013

The challenge project this time is glass. I thought about the fabric I have that looks like glass, wondered if I could find it, and only then thought about what I would do. My sewing room is stuffed with wonderful fabrics, and notes about projects for those wonderful fabrics. They are all in safe places – safe even from me.

The fabric fairies were kind to me, and I unearthed a few pieces that fit with my evolving plans. The first piece was one I had planned to make into a fabric postcard (my friend TheaM does beautiful cards). It was quilted and bound, but not embellished. In the right light, it looked like a pane of glass at sunrise. I thought about what happens to panes of glass, and decided it would look fabulous with a bullet hole.

fabric bullet hole

Since I’ve never actually seen a bullet hole in a pane of glass, this may just be a 4″ x 6″ piece of pink lame with open work.

The next thing I wanted to make was a glass house. I thought about frosted glass blocks, and what they would look like from the outside and the inside. This is what I started with:

 

Well-rounded glass bricks

Well-rounded glass bricks

I figured if you were inside you would see landscaping, so here’s my panoramic view:

fabric glass house interior

The loops of ribbon are to anchor future embellishments.

The roof was a puzzle, until I noticed a square of screening and decided my glass house would be part of a hothouse:

fabric glass house

There may be beads in the future for each of these projects, but that’s going to have to go on the to-do list for another day.