Posts Tagged ‘serendipity’

Flowers for Fall or Flamingos

August 1, 2018

I needed to make a technique demonstration for the Block of the Month, and didn’t have any of the fabric that we used for the kits, so I decided to use my scraps. I found a collection of fall colors, but then realized I had to make four iterations of the square flower to show how to manage a half-finished seam. I didn’t have enough scraps, but I was already looking forward to seeing how the fall fabrics would play together. I made the block anyway, and will finish it for a Display Block.

A flower for fall

As I was searching for a backing, I noticed a plastic bag filled with flamingo fabric. I am a sucker for novelty fabric. I never know what to do with it, but I buy it anyway. “Self,” I said, “make your four blocks from this novelty fabric, then use the rest of the fabric in the bag to finish it off for a Community Quilt. Some kid is bound to like the flamingos.”

A flower for flamingos

Don’t you just love it when a simple task turns into a relatively simple project that will clear out your stash and benefit someone else?

Luck and wisdom!

Longshore Drift

March 26, 2018

One of the advantages of having an unusual name is that you pay attention when you hear it. Or read it, as happened when I ran across the term longshore drift.

Photo by my father, George Longshore

The phrase has something to do with the accumulation of sand along a beach, but I enjoy the juxtaposition of words. Like pebbles in the surf, a thousand uses for the term rolled across my brain. It could be a command – “Longshore, drift!” I could pretend that I had been forced – forced, mind you – to spend the afternoon in idle amusement. Or it could be a suggestion for free-writing – drift along on a wave of sentences, tossing them on paper like leaves along a country stream.

Which brings to mind what I miss most about the demise of card catalogs – the lack of serendipity. Searching for books became so much easier, but the minutes I gain can’t outweigh the hours of pleasure I would get from a random discovery. It’s why I love my hardbound set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, where looking up the great photographer Yousuf Karsh led me to Tamara Platonova Karsavina, who danced with Nijinksy; which is next to Kars, a much fought-over region in Turkey known for its cheese; which is next to Paul Karrer, who won a Noble Prize for investigating carotenoids, which turn me orange when I eat too many carrots.

Oh, look, longshore drift.

Star Wars Day, and The Mummy

May 4, 2016

May the 4th be with you, and happy Star Wars Day. Have I mentioned that I love made-up holidays?

There actually is a connection to the work I’ve done lately. The next Progressive Party project is about movies. I looked through all of my fabric collections, the ones that I packed in clear plastic bags, hoping for inspiration to strike. I adore movies, but not all the ones I watch over and over can sustain multiple visuals suitable for a quilt made by a committee. Then I came across my Egyptian collection.

I put embellishment options as well as fabric in the bags

I put embellishment options as well as fabric in the bags

“Self,” I said, “you watch the Boris Karloff mummy movie every Halloween. This could work.” The myth of the mummy’s curse started after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Advertisers, artists and even architects started using ancient Egyptian motifs (think Camel cigarettes, Art Deco and the Chrysler building). A good part of classic flapper fashions of the ’20s came from Egypt-mania. If it worked for them, it will work for me. So, I sketched a mummy out for a walk among the pyramids.

Anything is possible with the quilter's secret weapon - graph paper

Anything is possible with the quilter’s secret weapon – graph paper

After a little experimenting, I found a suitable fabric for the ink I wanted to use and the vision I wanted to express. This synthetic blend gives me good texture without letting my pen drawing bleed into a fuzzy mess.

The beginning of another collaborative art project - hurrah!

The beginning of another collaborative art project – hurrah!

Now I get to unleash the creativity of the Progressive Party – and I get to take one of the plastic bags off my shelf.

Luck and wisdom!

My Accidental Modern

April 20, 2016

A few years ago I started a collection of shamrock and leprechaun fabric, with one green print of numbers. I had a title – Logarithms and Leprechauns – and an idea to use bargello piecing. That was where it stopped until PBS ran a series on the 1916 Easter Uprising. I pulled out the project bag and started cutting.

The piecing went as you might expect. I put a couple of strips together and said, “Self, if you separate the strips into two rows the piece will be more interesting.” So I did that, sewed a couple more strips together and said, “Self, if you smoosh the two sections together the piece will be more interesting.” So I did that, and then it was time to audition borders. That’s when I turned the piece on its side and discovered I had made a modern quilt.

Should I rename this Barging Into Modern?

Should I rename this Barging Into Modern?

I brought it to my friendship group and they agreed it is sorta kinda maybe modern. That’s good enough for me. I pieced the back with the leprechaun fabric (because it refused to play nice with the fabrics for the top).

The leprechauns that started it all

The leprechauns that started it all

Luck and wisdom!

Ghosts of Projects Past

July 29, 2015

I finished embroidering the squares I inherited from my grandmother. There are still two pillow forms left from my binge buying when they were on sale, so I planted myself in the sewing room and closed my eyes. “Self,” I said, “when you open your eyes, you’re going to see the right fabric for the pillows.”

It worked.

The fabric is from a series of spring quilts

The fabric is from a series of spring quilts

There are many bins with fabric collections in my sewing room, but I opened my eyes to the one with big-ish pieces left from other projects. No piece is larger than a half-yard, most are fat quarter size. That’s enough to make me feel guilty that I don’t have another project, but not enough to actually make another quilt. Pillows are a different critter. Pillows I can do with fat quarters and half-yards.

The fabric is from an Art Nouveau series

The fabric is from an Art Nouveau series

I’m not the only one benefiting from ghosts of projects past. We were talking with a friend about plans for our landscaping. My husband mentioned he wanted to do something interesting with large stones. Our friend said he could get us all the stones we needed since his daughter was changing the landscaping of her new house and had large stones she didn’t want.

I wonder if it will still look like an altar when the plants go in

I wonder if it will still look like an altar when the plants go in

Ghosts of projects past – the leftover bits and bobs – often have minds of their own. If you let them, they’ll tell you how to use them.

Luck and wisdom!

Again with the lemonade

July 25, 2012

Both of the kids are returning to the nest while they look for work. One just finished a masters degree, the other is still trying to figure out what life, the universe and everything really means. The good news is we can offer them a place to live while they regroup. The bad news (Part A) is I really, truly, absolutely, positively have to remove my stuff from their rooms.

You may recall that I had been keeping fabric in their rooms, our room, the living room, and the garage as well as the sewing room. The bad news (Part B) is that the garage door that we had hoped to have replaced long before this is getting replaced while I’m clearing out the kids’ rooms. We had to have twelve feet (12′) of clear space for the workmen to install the garage door, which meant there was no room for me to squirrel away the fabric. I couldn’t even use a corner as a staging area because there were no empty corners.

The universe had its fun with me, then showed me the way out. Tucked away in a corner of my son’s room were the shelving units he used as a kid to keep his toys in order. My husband even found the connecting pieces that turned the metal grids into shelves. I took the fabric for my prison program (in plastic bins and cardboard boxes), put it in the living room temporarily, and assembled a few of the grids.


Bonus points if you see what’s missing

This first effort was essentially a proof of concept experiment – first that I could get the grids together and second that the plastic bins would fit. They did. In fact, I got all of the fabric that had been in the corner stowed away with room to spare.

This is what was in the corner


This is how much space it took up on the new shelves

My husband poked his head in the sewing room when I stopped swearing (I said I got the grids together – I didn’t say I found it easy). He took one look at my shelves and cautiously mentioned that they weren’t as stable as one might like. He then offered to help me rebuild the shelf right then and there. This is how much more stuff I got in there once he put the back pieces in:

So we’ve come full circle. The units I bought my son to keep his toys out of my hair are now being used to keep my stuff out of his hair. I still have more units, and more plastic bins. Give me a couple of weeks, and I might even clear out enough stuff along the batting wall to complete my new storage system.