Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

Surprise and the Lesson of Letting Go

November 8, 2017

Two words – origami frogs.

I didn’t make them, but I do treasure them

These little darlings were the surprise in the bottom of a container I cleaned out this week. They were under an old flip-phone that I never got around to recycling. My husband discovered the manuals for the phone and decided it was time I had another lesson in letting things go. My reward was finding these cute frogs.

The universe gave me another surprise reward when I decided to let go of my desire to make the perfect piece of art. I wanted to combine a batik and a wool square, but couldn’t come up with an ideal design. Tired of the frustration, I basted the batik to the square and started embroidering lines. Then I cut the fabric away from some of the lines. Here is the result.

I added more embroidery and some beads.

Always let your materials tell you where they want to go

Now I have to decide on a finishing technique. One of the candidates is to add a beaded fringe that has been sitting in my lace and trims box.

Learning how to let go is a lesson I’ll probably need to study again and again. As long as I get the occasional surprise at the end, I guess it’s okay.

Luck and wisdom!

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Gifts of the Sun (sort of)

August 30, 2017

The Great American Eclipse didn’t go over my house. We had 75% coverage, which was enough for the sky to darken a little and beautiful crescent suns to appear on the patio under the leaf-covered pergola. I wanted to make an art quilt to commemorate this gift from the sun (and moon), and used the American Quilter’s Society free pattern “Luna” as a starting point. The pattern represents a lunar eclipse. I turned my version into a solar eclipse with embroidery and a well-placed button.

The eclipse in felt and thread

The base is a piece of hand-dyed wool felt that fiber artist Gail Sims made. She used leaves she collected from her yard. I liked the idea of showing the progress of the eclipse on the ground, which is the way I watched it.

The well-placed button

The next gifts come from a land of midnight sun. My friend and sister quilter Margaret Misegades was on a cruise to Norway. Knowing my fondness for antlered animals, she found something reindeer at each port of call.

This is adorable

I plan to use my little pitcher for cream once the temperature drops enough that I can drink hot tea again.

Such a grand addition to my fridge magnet collection

The reindeer magnet is remarkably strong as well as just so darn cute. Even my grocery coupons look cool underneath it.

These pencils are wonderful, and I still use pencils a lot, but to be honest I’m thinking about using them as part of a table display for Christmas with flowers – fresh or silk – and maybe one of my birds.

Luck and wisdom!

Upgrades – Gift or Curse?

July 12, 2017

Some wretched app on my cell phone absolutely positively had to schedule an upgrade last week. My phone reacted poorly, and I lost all my photos, my Instagram connection, basically anything I actually use. Curses. The good news is once I accepted that I would be without a phone for a while I stopped thinking about it and began to appreciate the gift of time. The hours I  might have been on social media turned into a lovely period for handwork.

I finished the cross-stitch thistle that went off the rails a couple of weeks ago. Now that it is done, I’m actually quite pleased with it.

The next project-in-progress was inspired by some trees I saw on a family trip to Montana. The trunks were straight and tall. I started embroidering lines to represent them. I may or may not add the canopy after I’ve grown weary of laying down straight lines in varying widths. Someone asked what this piece was going to be, but I didn’t have an answer. For the moment, it is simply a bit of beauty to occupy my hands and entertain my eyes.

I still don’t know if upgrades are a gift or a curse. My current phone is toast, so until the new one arrives I’ll be living the unconnected life. At least I know that I can go back to the way life used to be if necessary.

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!

My Secret Weapon

March 22, 2017

I made a little progress with my lobster-beetle quilt. I’m definitely going to use embroidery, but it will only be sashiko-ish – I don’t have the right thread, and the motif is definitely not Japanese. To be honest, I’m not sure what shape the motif will ultimately take. That made me hesitate to do any marking at all until I remembered my secret weapon, soap.

I learned to use soap slivers to mark cottons from Maria Sakiyama, a good friend and fabulous seamstress. It lasts long enough for hand-work, but washes out easily. It’s readily available, easy to store, and easy to use.

That is, it is easy to mark a line. That doesn’t mean my needle will follow the line that my hand has drawn. Let me explain. This is the top with borders.

I drew a long, swooping line from the totem square down to the lower beetle strips.

Then I started embroidering. Lo and behold, my hand strayed from the line.

I have no idea why I couldn’t follow the line, but there it is. Now I have to decide if I’m going to keep the lines I’ve sewn or take them out and begin again. Since the soap line will wash away, I actually have a choice. If only all my mistakes were as accommodating.

Luck and wisdom!

Lions and Earworms

February 15, 2017

So, I was starting the next assignment in the design book my art quilt critique group has been using, and I got myself one doozy of an earworm – The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Couldn’t get it out of my head. Here I’m supposed to be exploring a dancing grid, and instead I’m dancing around the sewing room singing “awim away, awim away.” Then I spied a scrap of fabric that tied the two together.

In the jungle . . .

In the jungle . . .

I pulled out one fat quarter with a geometric pattern, and some other scraps that played well with my background and focus fabric.

Lani Longshore fabric collection

The piece ended up being more dancing columns than a dancing grid. It also needed something, so I tried the Laura Wasilowski method of adding embroidery.

Lani Longshore embroidery threads

Of course, there must be beads.

Lani Longshore beading

Here is the piece in it’s current stage.

I still have more room for embellishment

I still have more room for embellishment

So far I’ve kept the embellishments on the subtle side. You have to get pretty close to see the blue embroidery and blue beads on the blue fabric. That may change, but I have a feeling I need to let this piece marinate a bit – at least until I get that silly song out of my head.

Luck and wisdom!

Finding Focus

October 12, 2016

I’m building two quilts from the base up, letting the fabric tell me what it wants next. Turns out the fabrics I chose all have different plans, and while they are quite willing to sit next to each other they can’t agree on the direction the quilt should take. They have no focus.

Lani Longshore cityscape

This is my cityscape, which started when I made a mistake measuring. I found some other architectural fabric that I like. There is room in the white rectangles to create a focal point. I will be extremely happy when I know what that focal point should be.

Lani Longshore map quilt

This is my map quilt, which looks very different up close while beading than it does in a picture. I can see that I need to do something around the edges to tell the viewer “stop here.” I wanted the eye to travel easily over the surface, so there are several interest points. I’m not sure that qualifies as focus.

Lani Longshore beading detail

My go-to technique is always beading. There is room to add larger beads, or even make bead clusters, as soon as the piece starts talking to me.

Lani Longhore embroidery detail

My second favorite technique is embroidery. These trees reinforce the idea that this fabric represents hills. Perhaps the threads are too subtle if I feel the need to explain the image.

Lani Longshore map detail

Writing on quilts is a new technique for me. This compass is also subtle, perhaps even delicate. Perhaps too cautious?

The great thing about art quilts is that there is always room to try one more thing. These quilts may be in progress for some little while, but I’m learning as I go, and that’s good news.

Luck and wisdom!

Where The Buffalo Roam

April 6, 2016

Since I didn’t have a plan for the embroidery on my buffalo collage, I put the threads and a couple of pattern books next to my place on the couch. When I watched TV, I also picked up my needle and thread. Hey, if buffalo can roam, so can my stitching. This is what I had by the end of the week.

Lani Longshore buffalo collage

Most of the stitches came from one of my crazy quilt pattern books.

The stencil is probably an auroch, but that's close enough for me

The stencil is probably an auroch, but that’s close enough for me

The backing comes from leftover pieces in my collection of High Plains and Southwest fabric.

Lani Longshore collage backing

I might add more embroidery later, but for now I’m auditioning beads in my new sorting container, which is the carry-out shell from the really cool cupcake place downtown, Cake Delight. When I finally finish the piece, I’m heading back there for my celebration treat.

Lani Longshore beads

Luck and wisdom!

Creating A New Stack

October 14, 2015

I finished two pillows recently, both with embroidered squares my grandmother marked but never completed.

No one sees the pen marks if you don't mention them

No one sees the pen marks if you don’t mention them

This is the one she marked with a ballpoint pen. Put it on the couch with a bunch of other pillows and no one notices. Big win.

Good enough for the good fabric

Good enough for the good fabric

This is another one from her collection. I loved the way it turned out, so I decided to use the good stuff for the back.

Lani Longshore pink back

I have many pieces of fabric that are too good to cut. This was one of them, but I cut it anyway. Once I had the pillow back pieced, I considered the remaining length. “Self,” I said, “you could combine this with another fabric that is too good to cut.” I found a sample of silk that I dyed in a Betty Busby class and sewed the two together.

Lani Longshore pink top

Just as I was congratulating myself that there was enough left of the pink floral to make a beaded wall-hanging, I realized the awful truth. I reduced my stack of embroidery only to create a new stack of stuff to be beaded. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished.

Luck and wisdom!

The Joy of the Back-up Plan

August 26, 2015

Three – count them, three! – projects presented a back-up plan for my consideration this week. Joy abounds.

Now this is the way to cut corners!

Now this is the way to cut corners!

The embroidery project that was marked in ink came first. Alert reader Violet Carr Moore suggested using hair spray to get rid of the ink. I thought about it, but I quilted the project before I soaked it. I’m pretty sure the ink would seep into the batting, and there isn’t enough hair spray in the world to deal with it. So, I trimmed the piece and put triangles on over the marked corners.

The block is finished, I'm still serene, all is well

The block is finished, I’m still serene, all is well

Next came my serenity story block. My art quilt critique group pointed out a section of a strip of hand-painted raw silk that would work. I beaded three spirals and found some hand-dyed solid strips that went well with a piece of Asian-inspired fabric.

Lani Longshore sashiko sample

Finally, although I am disappointed that I won’t be able to take the sashiko workshop at Amador Valley Quilters I found another piece of Asian-inspired fabric that has a section I can use for a do-it-myself class sample. It won’t be the same as sharing a day of stitching with friends and a good teacher, but it will use up stuff I already have. If I really enjoy it, I can always buy more supplies. If not, well, one less piece of fabric in the pile.

Luck and wisdom!