Posts Tagged ‘Lani Longshore’

A Christmas Miracle with Curved Piecing

December 11, 2019

The quilting goddess was in a good mood this week. My latest Progressive Party project was all curves. Three blocks of curves. Three blocks of curves that will go in someone else’s quilt.

They turned out.

Admittedly, the project included templates, these were mostly gentle curves, and the fabrics were good quality (allowing just enough stretch to make a smooth seam, not so much that I had to angst over distortion). Also, I’ve done a few projects with curves in the last year so my skills aren’t all that rusty. But still – three blocks and they all came out! This is worth celebrating, so I did.

Luck and wisdom!

When Writing What You Know Works

December 9, 2019

The short story “SeeApp” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2019) is a brilliant illustration of why we are advised to write what we know. James Van Pelt taught for 36 years; he may have never been in a school like the one in his story, or met anyone like his characters, but everything feels right. The descriptions are in his bones, and the words flow off his fingers. This is why my co-author Ann Anastasio and I set our first book in a quilt store, and grounded all our books in the quilting world. We know those places like our own kitchens, and we know the people in them. It was easy to create the settings and characters when we had our combined lifetime experiences to draw upon. Once that was on paper, the stories took off on their own. I’m convinced everyone has at least one story to tell, so give it a try. Put the world you know best in words, and see where that takes 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!

Thankful for Brevity

November 25, 2019

In this holiday season, I am thankful for brevity. I appreciate journalists who know how to write a proper lead, websites that get me where I want to be in three clicks or less, and bloggers who get to the point.

Luck and wisdom!

Crazy Quilts, A Lifetime Commitment

November 20, 2019

Recognizing that the last three blocks I planned for this crazy quilt will not be finished in the foreseeable future, I sewed the nine blocks I have together. Then I waited for them to tell me how to embroider over the seams.

I got bupkus. In desperation, I sewed a line of chain stitches down one seam. The blocks remained silent.


Like all good quilters, I’ve got books on every aspect of the art. Three of my embroidery books were easy to reach, so I started going through them for inspiration. The books won’t shut up. Every page is screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” The blocks, however, are shaking their heads, saying, “Don’t even think about it.” I hate to tell you what my threads are telling me.

So, I’m guessing this project represents a lifetime commitment. Anyone have any advice for navigating the crazy quilt relationship?

Luck and wisdom!

The Sewing Guide to Character Development

November 18, 2019

As a fiber artist – whether for art quilts or garments – I let the fabric tell me what pattern to use. I realized I also use the same technique when I’m creating characters. Like the titles of my two favorite sewing books suggest, I repurpose people and mix and match traits to create the characters I need. Treating the plot as if it were fabric, I adapt the material at hand (ie, my friends and family) to suit the needs of my art. There are a couple of advantages to this, the first being if I blend traits well enough no character of mine will be recognizable as a real person. Just because I think I am using the best parts of folks I know in my characters doesn’t mean the actual people will agree, or like the way I’ve portrayed them. I love all the people in my life, and wouldn’t hurt their feelings for anything, not even the possibility of being on The New York Times best-seller list. The second advantage is no one I know has ever fought shape-shifting aliens invading Earth disguised as bolts of beige fabric, or gone to another planet to stop a civil war, or tried to lure a renegade alien soldier with spumoni ice cream. Using bits and pieces of the life stories of people around me turns out to be the ideal way for me to begin developing my characters. Then, like my quilts, the piece takes over and tells me where it wants to go. What is your ideal method of character development?

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!