Posts Tagged ‘finishing projects’

The 3 Laws of Scrap Dynamics

November 21, 2018

I have completed twenty (20!) projects since beginning the Unfinished Quilt Challenge, with no real increase in storage space apparent in my sewing room. It seems that there are laws of scrap dynamics at play here.

Law 1

Scraps are the logical and inevitable result of creativity. No matter how tidy your original stack of fabrics, it will always result in an unruly collection of leftover pieces (even if the project is completed). Since this is going to be your fate, embrace the mess.

Law 2

You can’t get rid of scraps on your own. The picture above is the fourth top to come out of a collection of pink and brown fabrics that I figured would be used up in one quilt. The key here is to find someone or something to help. The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has encouraged me to use any and all leftovers in donation quilts. That has given me the courage to continue piecing tops and backs from collections that by all rights should be used up by now, and to tell the committee that distributes donation quilts that I will have several ready for them after the first of the year.

Law 3

Scraps and creativity exist in equilibrium. The more creative you are, the more scraps you have, or find. I thought I would be clever and use some scraps from other projects in this top. I thought I would clear out one scrap bag (I used maybe a quarter of a yard), and I found a forgotten bag of scraps tucked behind the one I was raiding.

For me, the moral of the story is unclear. Perhaps one of you has a sure-fire way of getting rid of scraps?

Luck and wisdom!

Coast to Coast with Confidence

October 10, 2018

In one of those moments when the universe says, “Just get on with it,” the quilt I absolutely, positively had to finish was the one with the heron. I’ve called the quilt Coast to Coast, and it was just the confidence boost I needed.

Quilted, bound, and labeled

My foot still doesn’t like to be down for any length of time, but I had to change threads often for this quilt. What under ordinary circumstances would have been discouraging turned out to be practical – thirty minutes with my foot down, ice and rest, repeat. Even with all the thread changes, the quilting went much faster than I expected.

The dreaded heron and the many quilting threads

I also made a feature out of a bug by using yellow thread around the center of the flowers. My original intent was merely to hide the little boo-boo when the yellow meandered over the black, but I like it better this way.

The pattern called for one tree and a house, but I made three trees representing the palm trees, deciduous trees, and pine trees that can be found together on every street in my town.

This quilt was years in the making, since I was afraid to make the appliqued heron, nervous about changing the pattern, and concerned that I really couldn’t put all three Row By Row kits together to make a coherent piece. Furthermore, I was truly terrified that my injury wouldn’t let me get back in the sewing room at all, much less in time to finish the quilt for the guild Unfinished Quilt Challenge. Because of my fears, once I got started Coast to Coast became a huge confidence builder.

Luck and wisdom!

Chipping Away at Obstacles

September 19, 2018

I had hoped my row quilt would be done by now, but stuff happened. I was able to chip away at enough obstacles to finish the top. A qualified success is still a win.

I call it “Coast to Coast”

Although I complain about life getting in the way of quilting, the good news is I have things to do, places to go, people to see. Yes, I want to complete my projects, but my life is more than my work. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. My friend Jan Maxwell made me a potholder featuring a woman wrapped in purple, with a cup of hot tea. Sometimes, despite obstacles and nagging to-do lists, life is good exactly as it is.

It’s okay to just be happy

Luck and wisdom!

Battling To-Do List Anxiety

August 29, 2018

The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has been a blessing for me. I’m getting projects finished, and the deadlines keep me working as efficiently as I can. No blessing comes without a curse, however. For as much as I’m pathetic without a deadline, I’m also pathetic with them. I tend to get myself twisted inside-out worrying that I won’t meet them. I know the world isn’t going to end if I don’t get my projects done, because it has happened. Some of my best unpublished stories are the tales I spin to explain to my friendship groups why I came to the meeting empty-handed (and they always forgive me!). So, this month I snatched minutes here and there to get at least one project done. Despite the whimpering voice in my head telling me I’ll never finish a thing, I have three projects ready to bind.

Lani-Longshore-anxiety-flower-8-29-18

This one actually got finished!

anxiety-flamingo-8-29-18

anxiety-squirrel-8-29-18

The lesson here? Listen to the voice of doom if it helps to get you in the studio, then tell it to hush. You’ll get the work done.

Luck and wisdom!

Scraps Be Gone

June 20, 2018

My plan to use scraps for my tea towel quilt is working. I pulled out all the odd blue remnants, cut them into 1 1/2” or 2 1/2” strips, and started sewing.

The great thing about a scrap quilt is the more fabric you use, the less you notice the disparities. Country calicoes and ethnic prints? Cool. Formal versus funky stripes? No problem. Blues that don’t always play nice together? The flow keeps them from fighting.

I decided I would try the same technique with the backing. My flannel collection is getting thin, but I bet I can piece together something interesting from this stack.

This will be a couch quilt, something to huddle under on a cold winter day (yes, we get one or two of them in California). It might also be a conversation starter, although I’m well aware that when someone asks, “How did you come up with the idea?” they’re really asking, “Mercy, what were you thinking!” Doesn’t matter – my scrap pile is smaller, and I’m getting my projects finished.

Luck and wisdom!

Discipline and Diligence

June 6, 2018

I wrote a blog for the Tri-Valley Writers website about discipline, diligence and productivity. Even as I was writing it, the snarky angel on my shoulder snorted. “Honey,” it said, “if you could actually be disciplined and diligent, you wouldn’t still have a messy sewing room.” So I decided to break down some of my tasks to help achieve my goals.

Four projects on the list, ready to be basted and quilted

I have finished the tops for several quilts on my Unfinished Quilt Challenge list. The number for the next project we need to complete will be drawn this week. I had a little extra time and decided to make backs for those quilts. I won’t layer them until their number is drawn, but when it comes up I can do that immediately.

I’m also working on one of the projects, a baby quilt. It’s small, but it’s also a traditional quilt, and I lose focus making the same block over and over. I’ve been sewing a few blocks here and there, and will be able to put the center together soon. The final border and back will be the same fabric.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day (6-6-44), and I’m taking that as a good omen. Diligence and discipline may not be my forte, but I can learn.

Luck and wisdom!

Chenille Is Coming

December 13, 2017

Thanks to the gentle prodding of my friend Paula Chinick of Russian Hill Press, The Chenille Ultimatum is one step closer to publication.

Coming soon!

The proof copy arrived this week. There is still one more round of revisions before we can hit the print button (and you can read about our heroines saving the space aliens from civil war). Given that Ann Anastasio and I had intended for this next novel in our series to be published last spring, we’re happy. There’s nothing like having someone keep you accountable to get your projects done.

Another friend, Julaina Kleist-Corwin, helped with the first bit of pre-publication publicity. Julaina interviewed me for her Facebook group for writers and entrepreneurs. She is letting me post that interview here: https://vimeo.com/243987862.

As well as the last round of revisions, I’m also working on projects. This is another in my silk ribbon experiments.

Here’s hoping all your projects come together!

Happy birthday, Mom!

The Suck It Up, Buttercup Effect

October 11, 2017

I made a public announcement that I would have two (2) quilts ready for our guild’s annual charity donation. The tops were finished, but I still had to quilt and bind them. The deadline is next month, but knowing what a procrastinator I am, I gave myself a stern talk. “Will it be easier to finish the quilts tomorrow, Self? The next day? The next week? What’s wrong with now? Suck it up, Buttercup, and get them done.”

Amazingly enough, it worked. Both are finished.

The Twist-and-Turn pattern is great for making quilts you intend to be used. You can let the fabric do the work.

The backing is made from black and yellow prints like the binding – stars, polka dots and squares.

Here is the binding I used on the cowgirl quilt I showed a couple of weeks ago. It was the only piece in the collection large enough to cut all the strips. Now the quilt is finished and the collection has been reduced to a couple of strips. Mission accomplished.

Luck and wisdom!

Social Media and the Solitary Quilter

April 26, 2017

Creating art is usually a solo journey. I am lucky enough to have collaborators for some of my fiber art and fiction, but most of my work is done alone. Social media is useful for promoting one’s work, but first you have to get something finished. I started this blog to help me move from solitary quilter in a quagmire of a studio to fiber artist with something to show for it. It was a daunting experiment.

I called this corner Fort Longshore

I’ve worked diligently, finished some things, but my studio still looks like this.

The foundation of a fort on my sewing table

The sad truth is, I have so many stacks of works-in-progess and ideas-that-deserve-more-attention and oh-isn’t-this-a-cute-fabric that my studio will probably always look like the aftermath of a warehouse explosion. However, I figure if one part of social media could make me a little more productive perhaps another part could help as well. Julain Kleist-Corwin, a good friend and wonderful writer, recommended Instagram, and now I’m on that. I believe you can find me as lanilongshore, but if you search under #artquiltsantafe you should find my posts.

My intention is to post once a day, and focus on what I’ve accomplished. Yeah, that was the plan. I’ve already put up many days of flowers blooming in our garden because I did bupkus in the sewing room.

There is always art in the garden

I’ve also posted art quilts I made a long time ago. This is one of them.

Called Window, because it reminds me of a window open to the stars

Blogging once a week helped me to get over my fear of messing up a project, because I wanted to have something to write about. I’m hoping that posting on Instagram once a day will keep me working on a project even when I’m out of ideas because a picture of something is better than a picture of nothing. Check in on my progress (or lack thereof) if you have a free moment.

Luck and wisdom!

Colors And Vineyards And All That Jazz

September 7, 2016

I’m working on a couple of challenge quilts that may never be finished. Oh, they’ll be turned in, but they both keep telling me there is always room for one more bead.

This looks more like a grape vine if you squint

This looks more like a grape vine if you squint

The challenge is Colors of the Vineyard. I started with the background fabric and put a vine on one and a tree on the other. My usual procedure is to quilt, bead and bind. This time, I bound them in the middle of beading so that at some point I can say the project is done (even if it is merely abandoned).

Beads, lots of beads

Beads, lots of beads

I started beading grapes. That got old real fast, so I started beading around the motifs. Since I bead while watching TV, the needle kind of takes over. It’s like eating popcorn while watching a movie. Suddenly the bowl is empty and you don’t know how that happened. In this case, the fabric is encrusted but I have no idea when it happened.

My mossy tree

My mossy tree

For this quilt, I intended to use a blanket stitch around the tree applique and leave it at that. Then I looked at all my beads, and realized the quilt desperately needed a bit of sparkle.

Finally, a place for these tear drop beads

Finally, a place for these tear drop beads

I’ve been beading this quilt in front of the TV, too, but I forced myself to cover only one side of the trunk. I want it to look like moss.

Auditioning fabrics - better one?

Auditioning fabrics – better one?

I hadn’t intended to enter the tree into the challenge because it doesn’t meet the size requirement. My quilting buddies reminded me that if I made an underquilt the tree would meet the requirements just fine, thank you very much. The above fabric was my first choice (and not just because I could reach it easily).

Auditioning fabrics - better two?

Auditioning fabrics – better two?

This is my second choice. My third choice is to go shopping. I know which path my budget tells me to take, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to listen.

Luck and wisdom!