Posts Tagged ‘design’

Composition Guides, Design Tools and the Lazy Artist

July 31, 2013

A painter friend, Janne Henriksen, was talking about art at a party recently. We discussed technique and process, and how she paints, and what tools or guides she finds useful. That’s when I realized I would be a much better artist if I would first find and then use the many tools I have bought over the years.

 

My favorite design tool is graph paper.

 

Lani Longshore graph paper

 

Graph paper is the single most useful thing a quilter can stock. My sketching skills are minimal, but give me a pad of graph paper and I can recreate the lines and angles of interesting shapes in a format that will help me create something wonderful in fabric.

 

I’m also fond of marking tools.

 

Lani Longshore marking tools

 

Colored pencils, markers, slivers of soap – anything that lets me add a line to fabric is welcome in my studio. Sometimes I need a sewing line, sometimes a cutting line. Sometimes I want to intensify the color of the fabric, sometimes I want to hide it (and sometimes I want to hide where the seams don’t quite meet).

 

When my free-hand drawing skills fail me, I turn to stencils.

 

Lani Longshore stencils

 

Stencils are great for quilting, embroidery, or beading designs. I like to look at them when I’m stuck for a piecing idea, too. No, I don’t do curves or pointy-points, but you’d be surprised at how the brain kicks into problem-solving gear if the fingers think they’re going to have to do something hard at the sewing machine.

 

Of course, even the most highly motivated creativity session can end in disappointment. This is where the most important design tool comes in handy.

 

Lani Longshore trash can

 

I decided long ago that agonizing over $1.15 worth of fabric and half an hour of my time was silly. I give you permission to bury your mistakes, too.

 

Experiment, Take Two

February 14, 2013

The nasty cough that is going around found me, so while I was sniffling on the couch for the last week I spent some time thinking about my curved fabric vase. One of my quilting buddies (thanks, Jan Maxwell!) showed our friendship group a product she had found for making purses. It is called Soft and Stable (ByAnnie.com), looks like lined foam, and held the promise of being just what I needed.

Before I cut into the fabric and foam, however, I decided to do a proof-of-concept piece. I took a square of canvas, cut it into a circle, marked some darts and sewed. Then I gathered the top edge. This is the result:

Canvas proof-of-concept, with darts

Canvas proof-of-concept, with darts

Next, I gathered my supplies:

Soft and stable, fabric

The product instructions claimed that sewing around the edges would be sufficient, so I assembled the three layers:

layers

Then I sewed two circles – one around the outside edge and one in the center for the base. After that, I marked where the shaping would go:

first stitches, layered bowl

For this piece, I decided to sew ribs rather than darts:

fabric bowl, ribs

This created a nice, shallow bowl:

flat bowl

Since I wanted a shaped vase, I sewed a casing to the top edge, ran some ribbon through it and gathered it up:

From the side . . .

From the side . . .

. . . and from the top

. . . and from the top

The end result is closer to the shape I want. Soft and Stable is a great product for this application, and I think I can achieve my goal. For the next version I’ll go sew darts rather than ribs, which should create a gentle, gathered curve. I’ll also cut a wider casing. The 1″ strip I cut was so narrow after subtracting seam allowances and turn-over that it was necessary to use many naughty words before the bodkin would slide through easily.

While I can’t say I’ve enjoyed being sick, I must admit that the enforced stillness gave me an excuse to take the time I needed to think through the next steps in my design. My reduced energy level encouraged me to do a simple version to see if I was on the right track. Now if only I can be this methodical when I’m feeling energetic and anxious to just get on with things.

Fish

April 18, 2012

The latest Challenge assignment will again give me a chance to finish a UFO, and again it is a Progressive Party project.

The quilt began its journey as a bordered rectangle of fish fabric. By the end it had blossomed into a fish tank on a book shelf. I was so pleased with it that I set it aside until I had the perfect quilting design for it.

Finished laughing, have you? Of course the perfect quilting pattern never revealed itself, and the darling little fish tank languished in one corner or another for more years than I care to admit. Then came the Challenge assignment – Fish. That’s all, just Fish. I can do anything I want as long as I can somehow relate it to the word Fish. I decided it was time to finish this quilt.

Which isn’t to say I couldn’t have done a brand new fish quilt. I have a sewing room full of fishy things.

One might ask why I have so many fish-related items. I can’t honestly tell you. I don’t eat fish and I prefer dogs as pets, but show me some fish fabric and it’s like putting a 5-lb box of chocolates in front of me. I start drooling, and before you know it my little hand is reaching out to snatch something. Occasionally I make something from my fish fabric –

– but for the most part I just keep adding to the collection. I can only hope that the integrity of the space-time continuum won’t be compromised if I actually use up my pile of fish fabrics.