Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Unexpected Victories

March 18, 2020

This is a quilt I made as a class sample but never finished because I didn’t know how I wanted to quilt it. I no longer teach the class, so there wasn’t much incentive to put it at the top of the pile. Well, it worked its way up. “Self,” I said, “just start quilting. The pattern will reveal itself.” I decided to let the fabric tell me what it wanted, which worked fine until I got to the vegetable appliques. Since the fusible interfacing was well past its prime, I had to do something fast just to keep the fabric in place. I decided to make little circles all around the pieces, with the intention of incorporating them into a more interesting design later on.

When I finished with the circles, I realized they were interesting enough on their own. These unexpected victories give me the courage to dive deeper into the unfinished quilts pile. You never know when something wonderful will surface.

Happy anniversary, Mom!

When The Fabric Speaks

March 4, 2020

One of my friendship groups wanted to experiment with fused applique, making small projects that would allow us to explore color and shape without investing too much time and fabric. To make it more interesting, we each assembled a packet of five fabrics that we would trade at the meeting. I liked all the fabrics in the packet I received, but didn’t have the first clue how to work with them. I stared at my collection while my friends were busy cutting theirs. “Self,” I said, “pick up the scissors and get to work.” I chopped here, snipped there, and ended up with this.

A river in a canyon

Once I put the pieces on my felt rectangle, I saw a river at the bottom of a canyon. “Landscapes it is,” I announced. Since no one objected – even my hypercritical internal editor – I continued.

Disconnected rivers?

The subsequent pieces flowed from the first. To avoid overthinking the end product, I let the fabric guide my scissors, and chance dictate which shape or color was fused first.


Once I had half of the felt covered, I allowed myself to make choices about what would go next. I also allowed myself to decide how the colors might go together based on the variegated embroidery floss that I just happened to have bought on impulse earlier in the week.

I’m not sure if I want these landscapes to be of alien worlds or of our possible future if we don’t start taking care of the planet. That decision will come when I break out the bead box, and listen to what the fabric tells me.

Luck and wisdom!

Leave Your Ribbons At The Door

February 17, 2020

That is, leave your desire to be universally applauded aside when you join a critique group. I am in two fabulous writing critique groups, and three equally fabulous quilt friendship groups that act as critique groups. The members all bring their best work, but understand that what appeals to one person may leave another cold. That doesn’t mean the work has no value. One of the best parts of bringing my creations to these groups is that even if they don’t speak to someone, the response I get will be more along the lines of a question than a complaint. I might be asked what I intended, or gently advised there could be two ways to read the sentence, or queried about the light in my studio because that pink square sure looks orange now. This is feedback I can use. If what I thought was on the page isn’t really there, I need to rewrite. On the other hand, if I want to be obscure then I’d jolly well better own it.

As far as the pink fabric really being orange, I’m pleading the fifth.

Luck and wisdom!

Daydreams of Quilt Patterns

February 12, 2020

One of the best parts of getting a boatload of quilt magazines is finding fun patterns. I like to save quilting patterns, like the little bird pictured above, for that elusive perfect project. So far, the patterns I’ve saved haven’t been exactly what I need (well, maybe one or two). I finally realized the examples in the magazines use pearl cotton on solids, which is not what I typically use in my quilts.

Turns out my fabric stash is stuffed with prints that absorb most quilt designs. I’ve always felt a little guilty about letting the fabrics dictate the quilting, until this one. It’s another charity quilt, made from some coastal village-scape fabric that I don’t remember buying, and a maritime-themed stripe that I do. I could almost hear the sound of surf against seawalls, which prompted me to say, “Self, quilt simple waves.”

The wave turned into a squiggle, but it still seems both watery and energetic. I’m not distressed that the fabric absorbs most of the design, and I’m certain whoever receives it won’t be either.

Luck and wisdom!

That Spark of Green

February 5, 2020

Long ago, I learned that adding a bit of a bitter, lemony green gave any project a jolt that brought the other fabrics to life. This quilt is a great example of the good things that can happen with a spark of green. The fabric collection I started with was okay, but I love the way it sings with the green sashing and binding.

If green really isn’t your color, find something in your own palette that will bring sparkle and sass to an otherwise pedestrian project. Your quilts will thank you.

Luck and wisdom!

The Kid’s Quilt That Could

December 4, 2019

Rain returned to my part of the world, making it safe from fires. This includes the fire inside that gets me into the studio to create. It didn’t help that I no longer loved the piece on the design wall. It has a bunch of animal and forest prints, and will be given away to a charity. Then I got my own little Christmas miracle when I walked into the studio and the green strips started to sing through the gloom.

This is the reason I chose that green, because it adds a little zing to whatever fabric is next to it. Well, I think it does, and I know small children like bright colors, so it stays. Anything that keeps me sewing when it is cold and rainy is okay by me.

Luck and wisdom!

Titles and Where to Find Them

December 2, 2019

I have a file box of quilt, story, and title ideas. When inspiration strikes, I’ll write the idea on whatever scrap of paper is closest to hand. The trick is to keep an open mind for the odd turn of phrase, have something to make notes at all times, and be prepared to give your conversation partners fair warning when you intend to steal something they said.

If I don’t use the idea immediately, I’ll keep the scrap in a pile. After a few months or years, if the idea still appeals to me, I’ll write it on a 3×5 card and put it in the box. I’ve actually used those cards, although there are more ideas than I’ll ever have time to use. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know if a good title doesn’t reveal itself immediately, I have a resource. Even if none of my backup titles fit the project, they will often lead me to the proper one.

Luck and wisdom!

Choosing Colors

November 27, 2019

The rain came back, which is good news for our garden, but not great news for my quilting. Proper light is essential for picking colors. Trust me, at the moment the light in my sewing room is far from proper. Still, there is an opportunity for me to learn more about choosing colors by looking outside. I would never have thought that a dull gray would do anything to enhance red, but what I saw on our sidewalk is changing my mind.

Here is a shot of the brothers, sisters, and cousins of the leaves on the sidewalk, this time framed with brown against the gray sky.

These are not my usual colors, but I like the way they work together. While I won’t be searching through my fabric stash until the sun returns, I can always plan which drawer I will look through first when it does.

Luck and wisdom!

Embroidery, or Picking Up Stitches

November 13, 2019

My crazy quilt pile called to me this week, so I consolidated the stack and picked up some blocks. The floral block above is done enough. I’ll put more stitching on it when I put the top together, but it needs some context before I can decide what I want to do.

The block above was easy, as I had always intended to use an outline stitch for the koi. I set the block aside because I discovered I didn’t have enough blue embroidery floss to finish the design. Luckily, a delicate peach floss caught my eye while I could still adapt the color scheme.

This block needs more work, but will also need context before I know what to do with it. I’m calling it done for the moment, because I’m pretty sure I could cover the entire thing with stitching and still not be happy with it.

One thing I am happy with is my decision not to save all the last bits of floss. Instead, I’m going to fill a scrap of Aida cloth with blocks of color. You can see the beginning above. I may put beads on it as well. We’ll see what the project tells me to do.

The thread in the box is the part of my collection I could get my hands on. I know I have more floss and specialty threads somewhere, but they’re playing a real good game of hide and seek with me. This is why cleaning my sewing room has been a grand adventure for such a long time. I really have no idea what I’ll find when I finally get to the last pile.

Luck and wisdom!

Repurposing and My New Purse

November 6, 2019

I have been searching for the perfect purse most of my life. I’ve gone through quite a few that were wonderful, but when they wore out I couldn’t find a good replacement. I made my own purse once, with pockets and zippers and sides that stood up, but it was more trouble than I wanted to experience again. Just as I was despairing that the problem was insoluble, my Halloween handbag gave me the answer. It is square, which makes it easier to arrange zippered pouches inside. Why bother trying to make a bunch of interior pockets fit easily, or wrestle with thick stablizers, when I can repurpose my considerable collection of pouches?

A few years ago, I made a bunch of zippered pouches as gifts. Not all of them were suitable to give away, but I kept them for my own use. I have also received many lovely zippered pouches as gifts from friends and family. Not all of them were put into service immediately, and I’ve always felt bad about that. Now I have a use for more of them, so I’m happy (one more item on the annual “Things I’m Thankful For” list for the Thanksgiving discussion).

I made a few alterations to the pattern (The Bellinzona Cube by Pixeladies, although I couldn’t find a link to it on their homepage). Aside from enlarging it a smidge, I added pockets to all four sides. I also added a sewn-in strap with a clip for my keys to one pocket, and made one taller and narrower to corral my pens.

The best news is the pattern went together well, even with the changes I made. Now I will be able to experiment as my handbag needs evolve – and never again be forced to buy something that is almost but not quite right.

Luck and wisdom!