Posts Tagged ‘Progressive project’

Mary Ellen Hopkins and the Joy of Simple Blocks

November 25, 2015

The holiday season is staring off with three gifts from the universe. First, I finished my project before the deadline. Second, I pulled out my copy of Mary Ellen Hopkin’s The It’s Okay If You Sit On My Quilt Book and rediscovered the joy of simple blocks. Third, I made a special place on the shelves for my Hopkins collection.


Mary Ellen Hopkins was the first important quilt lecturer I ever heard, and her advice shaped the way I approach the craft. She is the reason I have such an impressive collection of graph paper notebooks – you never know when you’re going to run across a design you can turn into a quilt block.

I wish I could credit Hopkins with an equally impressive collection of finished quilts, but at least I crossed off one more thing on my to-do list. The project with a deadline is for the Progressive Party. I made two blocks for a soft and feminine quilt.


Pink, green and yellow quilts have the same effect on me as blue and yellow quilts – immediately calming. This block is great for using leftovers from a large-scale print.


I wanted to add some yellow to this block, too, but the fabrics wouldn’t play nice together. Ah, well, pink and soft green works, too.

Luck and wisdom!

Fear and Laughter

March 25, 2015

There are a lot of things I’m afraid of – bugs crawling out of the newspaper (happened yesterday), the bathroom scale, suddenly finding myself with no chocolate in the house – but as an artist nothing is scarier than The Blank Page.

A beautiful blank notebook - scary!

A beautiful blank notebook – scary!

Whether I’m writing, sketching, or doing fiber art, starting a new project is a multi-stage process. First, I have to skulk around the house avoiding starting a new project. Next, I have to gather materials that may or may not end up in the new project, just to satisfy the nagging little voice that says “Do something!” Finally, I have to speak sternly to myself about my lack of moral fiber, and sit down at the computer or the sewing machine.

Complicating this process is new equipment.

Lani Longshore sewing machine

I have been getting used to free-motion quilting on my new sewing machine (did I mention new is scary?). Under ordinary circumstances, that would mean practicing on scraps. As it happens, I have to finish a quilt for the upcoming Amador Valley quilt show (which I will not be able to attend, but that’s a story for another blog – click here for details about the show if you are free April 18-19). Luckily, the quilt is a hoot, and nothing shoos away fear like laughter.

Lani Longshore Party Til the Cows Come Home

This is a Progressive Project. We all brought enough of one piece of fabric to share with the group, and we had to use a significant amount of each and every gift. I saw the party fabric, remembered that I had some cow fabric, and a title came to mind – Party Til the Cows Come Home. The other women reveled in the theme, and the top grew.

Lani Longshore quilt detail

The group decided to put this collection of quilts in the show, so I had to finish it. I giggled the entire time – well, almost the entire time. There were naughty words and gnashing of teeth when the thread broke, but the point is I stared The Blank Page down. For once.

Luck and wisdom!

Crash Course In PInk

August 6, 2014

My quilting friends do not think of me as a pink person. I don’t think of myself as a pink person. Then I sorted through my pink collection.


There's more where this came from

There’s more where this came from


This is the bag I will use for the next Progressive Project, the one that gets circulated around the group until everyone has had a chance to work on it. I thought I would toss some pinks in the bag just to see how much I had. The bag is half-full and I still have more.


More pink

More pink


And more.


Still more pink

Still more pink


And more.


Even this may not be all of it - I just stopped looking

Even this may not be all of it – I just stopped looking


What with a family reunion and a few other deadlines, I haven’t had enough creative energy to figure out what sort of project I want made from all this pink stuff. That’s my job for the coming week.

Luck and wisdom!

Pork In The Trees

April 23, 2014


One of my favorite scenes in “The Lion In Winter” is the argument Katherine Hepburn has with Peter O’Toole which ends with her shouting “There’ll be pork in the trees by morning!” I mention this because I’m planning to base my Progressive tree block project on that scene.

The first collection of fabrics that I chose didn’t quite work, so I went to plan B. The first design I chose didn’t quite work, so I went to plan C.

The tree block project in progress

The tree block project in progress

The first paint treatment I chose was based on a pig cookie cutter. Turns out that was too clunky.

These little piggies won't fly

These little piggies won’t fly

The second treatment used a simple leaf with subtle enhancement from a fine-line green pen. Turns out that was too subtle.

A shy pig

A shy pig

The third treatment uses more colors of paint and bolder enhancement with a medium-line black pen.

Waiting for the pigs

Waiting for the pigs

I guess my next project is going to be based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with the third choice that is just right.

Luck and wisdom!


Spring Cleaning

April 2, 2014


My stash is full of fabric meant for the perfect project. Backs do not count as the perfect project, which is silly, because even art quilts have their backs showing sometime. Still, it’s hard using the good stuff. Then I put fabric away before going on to the next step in my second Challenge project and heard the voices of all the wise quilters I know. It’s all good stuff, I might as well use it, and spring cleaning is a great excuse to make me use it.

Lani Longshore beet fabric

My second Challenge project for the Easter assignment is based on Russian Orthodox symbols – the Orthodox cross and the habit of dying Easter eggs a deep red (Ukrainians dye pysanky, the elaborate wax resist eggs). Since I grew up eating borscht, I know all about the Russian connection to beets. I unearthed my beet print fabric, used it for the back of the quilt, and used the pattern for my quilt design.

The eggs will come later, along with beads and embroidery

The eggs will come later, along with beads and embroidery

The next bit of cleaning was an experiment for my tree series. The Progressive Party is doing a tree block project later this summer, and I thought I would use a variety of scraps for the trunks. The experiment worked fine, but I realized the trees I made would be way too big for the blocks. A writing friend, Shelia Bali, gave me some fabric (I’m not the only one doing spring cleaning) and one piece was perfect for a background. I decided to choose the scraps I would use, not just take what was near the top of the basket.

Lani Longshore trees

Finally, I cleaned out enough of the green drawer to get a collection of good stuff for the Progressive project.

Assorted greens and background

Assorted greens and background

The fabric hasn’t told me how it wants to be used, but it is very happy to be out of that drawer.

Luck and wisdom!