Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Creativity with Clutter

October 18, 2017

I made a quilt with tea towels, because I needed to get creative with my clutter.

Scotland forever, warming up my toes

The towels were gifts, so I knew from the get-go that I could never dry the dishes with them. I still wanted to use them, but for the longest time couldn’t figure out how. The absurdities of aging gave me an idea. I very often have cold shoulders and hot feet, so I made a small snuggle quilt. It is also a good size for when my shoulders are hot and my feet are cold.

The borders and binding came from my blue and green fabric drawer. I pulled out the smallest pieces, the ones that were essentially cluttering up the drawer, cut them in strips and sewed until I was satisfied.

My guard hippo and lucky egg

This is one of the non-fabric collections that lives in the sewing room. I call it a decorative display. My family calls it clutter. My friend Bettina suggested I write a story about monsters hiding in the sewing room. I glanced around at my toy collection, and an idea was born.

What secrets does the black-eyed seal hide? Will the roadrunner tell?

I think my toys are cute, but those are the things that make horror stories even more frightening, yes? So, now I’m thinking of the stories as well as the quilts that can come out of my sewing room clutter. There are still a couple of weeks before Halloween, so maybe I’ll come up with something to celebrate, either in words or in fabric.

Luck and wisdom!

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The Felt-Melt Project: Before and After

August 16, 2017

The Progressive Party decided to play with felt melting after I showed them what I learned at Art Quilt Santa Fe. We all came with pieces ready to melt. Here are before shots of mine:

For these pieces, I sewed the patches on the felt with my quilting foot. That helped keep square patches square and round patches round. It also helped me with curved quilting grids.

The Dahlek patch on this piece comes from B. Coole Designs. She comes to the Caledonian Club of San Francisco Scottish Games every year, and every year I buy a handful of patches. Many of them are still in my “I’m going to use you someday, I promise” box. It seemed appropriate to use a Dahlek on a project that was going to be tormented.

This is the first piece where the felt to be melted was first attached to a small whole-cloth underquilt.

Now for the after photos:

You can see the lace-like effect of melting the felt when you hold this piece up to the light. I might hang it in a window, or attach it to a light fabric.

Just like a Dahlek, this piece was bound and determined to dominate me. I may leave it curled and crinkled, or I may try to include it in a different, non-quilted piece of art.

The felt took longer to melt, but the underquilt escaped without a single scorch mark. I attached eye-stems on the bottom for beading. I haven’t decided which beads I’ll use, so for the moment I’m enjoying being psuedo-steampunk with my metal fringe.

Luck and wisdom!

Embracing Mindlessness

August 2, 2017

Getting back into a creative groove after even a short interruption can be discouraging. While trying to get into a mindful frame, in my head I told myself to be mindless. Yeah, I was that tired. Still, it did lead to an epiphany: if you can’t be creative, you can be tidy. So I embraced my mindlessness and sewed binding on three quilts.

This is the quilt with the coppery binding. Here is a detail.

This is another baby quilt using the same pattern, Twist and Turn.

It goes together quickly, uses up scraps, and has no corners to match. The perfect pattern.

This baby quilt used some orphaned blocks and a novelty print of sea otters. I had to redo some of the quilting because the tension was off, but as it happens picking out stitching is an ideal task when your brain isn’t working well anyway.

Luck and wisdom!

Quiet-time Activities

July 26, 2017

I’ve had a quiet week, not entirely by choice. I’m still fighting off some bug or other, and my creative energy level has suffered. Even reading was more of a chore than I wanted most days, so I pulled out my travel kits and did some cross-stitch. I’ve shown you this square:

Oriented to be Christmas ornaments

You may recall I couldn’t decide if this depicts Christmas ornaments or shooting stars. I decided to explore stars and came up with this:

A star chart, grid-style

The grid reminded me of plaid, so I made this:

Stars on point

After all that, I decided I liked the Christmas ornament idea, and made this:

Strings of lights

Keeping my hands busy helped me accept the fact that I need to rest until I’m entirely well. I can’t guarantee I won’t go stir-crazy if I don’t start feeling better soon, but for the moment I’m content to be creative with quiet-time activities.

Luck and wisdom!

Forward and Back

July 19, 2017

The family had a lovely reunion a couple of weeks ago. Knowing that the first week back from vacation is never entirely productive, I’ve made a habit of getting a project prepared before I leave so I’ll have something easy to work on when I return. That planning turned out to be more of a blessing than I expected, because I started feeling under the weather shortly after I returned home. The universe sometimes does that – the two steps forward, one step back thing – so I’m not going to complain (much) that my usual week of less-than-stellar productivity is stretching into two, maybe three.

Luckily for me, my back-from-vacation project was a baby quilt that has been languishing for about a year. Life got in the way when the top was pieced and the quilting part never happened. Now it has. Rather than anguish over a quilting pattern, I let the fabric tell me what it wanted. I also lucked out in finding a new spool of coppery thread that matched nothing but blended with everything. Then the universe really gave me a break and let me unearth a coppery fabric for the binding.

I think this will look great even cut into strips

This fabric has been hiding in the drawer for a long time, waiting for the perfect project. It isn’t alone. I have many fabrics, threads, and embellishments biding their time. While searching through my collections, I unearthed a doily that might go well with a fat quarter a friend gave me.

There isn’t enough contrast between the doily and the light fabric, I know, but I’ll solve that another day. For the moment, I’m going to accept that life, especially the creative life, is all about moving forward and rolling back. There are lessons to be learned in both directions.

Luck and wisdom!

Pink Elephants!

July 5, 2017

Pink elephants – need I say more? Alright, I will. I found a coloring book of animal designs. The elephant was fabulous. While considering what background to use, my eye fell on a piece of pink wool felt. I was determined to embroider myself a pink elephant. There was only one problem – transferring the pattern to the felt.

Who knew netting could become template material?

I decided to draw the elephant on some white netting, and transfer the pattern to the felt by going over the lines with a fine-tipped pen. Actually, I first thought of tracing the elephant on the netting and stitching through that on the felt, but the netting slipped around so much while inking the design that I abandoned that idea right away.

If you look carefully, you can see a fold of netting by the elephant’s ear

Choosing the thread posed its own problems. I have lots and lots of thread, floss, ribbon, whatever. In desperation, I chose a variegated thread for the outline and yellow for the tusks. I stitched those lines and let the piece sit for a couple of days until it told me what colors to use next.

This is the sort of project that could call itself finished more than once. I could have left off with the outline and tusks, but I did add some more stitching, then a piece of trim, then some beads. At the moment, this is where it stands.

Done until the elephant tells me it wants more stitching or beads

Luck and wisdom!

Cross-stitch For Those Who Can’t Count

June 28, 2017

I love cross-stitch, but I have the worst time following a pattern. Despite having a decent education, I can’t count with thread in my hands. I have the same problem with knitting and crochet, but since I have friends and family who knit and crochet beautifully I don’t mind not mastering those arts. Cross-stitch is different. I refuse to be beaten, even though I often am.

This pattern is beautiful, and as it happened I had floss in the appropriate colors. Don’t ask where it came from. One day I rummaged through my floss box and found several lengths of pink, green and brown tied together. Last week, I decided to give following a pattern another try.

Things started out well enough. I told myself this time would be different, this time I would get to the end of the project and every stitch would be in place.

Oh, how the universe laughed.

By the time I realized how far off the mark I had gone, I was too invested in the project to abandon it. That’s when I had an epiphany – the reason I love cross-stitch is that the pattern can be altered on the fly if one has the courage to seize the needle. So that’s what I did. I soldiered on, inserting colors where I wanted them, adding a leaf, adjusting the shape of the stalk. By the time I finished I almost regretted doing this project on a scrap of aida cloth with a nasty stain and a line of embroidery that refuses to reveal why it is there. Almost, but not entirely. I’ll cut around the design, maybe fill in the background with a cream or very pale green. It might end up on a card, in an art quilt, or on a tote bag. Wherever it goes, it will remind me that even for those who can’t count, cross-stitch can be fun.

Luck and wisdom!

When a Start = Success

June 14, 2017

I took a moment to celebrate Chocolate Ice Cream Day last week, hoping to calm my brain enough to do something creative. It worked. The next day, I had ideas for two small pieces. Yes, it’s only a start, but I’m counting it as a success.

I’ve been experimenting with sewing squares on acrylic felt, then melting the felt. This time, I thought I would lay down a grid of thread first, and put something on top of that. The dragon applique was just sitting there, so I stitched it over the grid.

This yellow fabric was on top of the scrap basket. I cut circles from it, and scattered them over the surface. There weren’t enough. “Self,” I said, “why not see if a circle of thread will work just as well as a circle of fabric.”

The next step was melting the felt with my craft heat gun. The dragon didn’t mind at all.

The yellow circles weren’t quite as pleased. I added a bead to make them feel better.

Here is the little circle of thread. It isn’t as noticeable as I expected. If I try this again, I’ll make the circle from parallel lines instead of one big meandering line.

Luck and wisdom!

Chocolate Ice Cream Day and Creativity

June 7, 2017

According to my made-up food holiday calendar, today is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. As it happens, my favorite ice cream is spumoni, which is a combination of chocolate, pistachio and cherry – a most creative combination.

I mention all this because my creativity has been missing lately. Aside from a few cross-stitch projects, I haven’t been able to get past the (relatively) clean cutting board syndrome, also known as blank page jitters. “Self,” I said, “just go in and cut a strip of fabric. Inspiration will come.” I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

“Self,” I said, “perhaps you are overwhelmed with deadlines. Do something about that, and inspiration will come.” I trotted out my favorite time-management scheme – making lists – and got to work. Most of my deadlines were met, so I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

That’s when I noticed my food holiday calendar, and had a minor epiphany. Yes, beginning a new project always gives me the jitters, yes, I’ve volunteered for another group and I have more deadlines, but my biggest problem was my attitude. I had become obsessed with being efficient, and wasn’t factoring in time to savor relaxation. Even the reading time I allowed myself was tense, because book club night is coming up and I’m not finished with this month’s assignment.

I decided to relish the celebration of Chocolate Ice Cream Day. I will scoop the spumoni into a bowl with the chocolate part on top. I might even add some hot fudge sauce. Then I will stand in front of a decorative magnet I bought long ago, and hope I remember its wisdom. After that, when I am well and truly relaxed, I’ll hit the sewing room again.


Luck and wisdom!

Rusty Skills and How To Fix Them

October 26, 2016

Norma from She Sews You Know asked her readers what they did to repurpose old clothes. Since I repurpose old clothes to the Goodwill Store if they’re usable, and the scrap or rag bag if they’re not (the scrap bag being the one I save for quilt projects and the rag bag being the one I save for cleaning projects), I had to admit my sewing skills have become rusty. Then I saw an ad from C&T press.

Lani Longshore sewing book

Making clothes was never a joy for me, but I’ve accepted that there aren’t many designers focusing on my specific demographic. I also know that I am adventurous in my art quilts, not so much with the colors and prints I put on my body. So, I’m going to start polishing those sewing skills and see where it leads me. I’ve already taken a few baby steps toward that goal.

Lani Longshore cosmetics bag

I took one of my inherited zippers and some pink scraps and made myself a new cosmetic/travel bag. It’s small – 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ x 3″ – but that’s more than enough room. My beauty supplies are limited to hand cream and a couple of lipsticks. I save the big bags for my quilting projects.

Lani Longshore carryall

This is the latest bag for take-along projects. Sally Kimball gave me the pattern and inserts. This project taught me the value of really reading the directions, not sorta kinda maybe reading them as you are going along. While I managed to make everything fit together, it was often an exercise in humility.

Lani Longshore carryall interior

Luck and wisdom!