Posts Tagged ‘sewing room’


July 16, 2014


The universe gave me some lovely gifts this week. The first two will find their way to other people, the last will stay with me.

Lani Longshore beaded green quilt

I finished the beading for this project last week. This week I found the perfect green to use as a base quilt. As the beads and fabric told me what they wanted me to do with them, I realized they were also telling me they could be a gift for a talented artist I’ve known since elementary school.

Lani Longshore spice basket

My daughter gave this basket of spices as a thank-you gift to a mutual friend. I helped her put it together with jars and a basket I had in the sewing room.

Lani Longshore fabric

The last gift is a new-to-me technique. My quilt guild is making pillow cases for a community outreach for local veterans. I read the instructions more in dread than anticipation. I couldn’t visualize how the fabric in the photo above could go from this:

Lani Longshore pillow case tube

to this:

Lani Longshore pillow case

Despite my misgivings, the technique is simple and fast. You can find the pattern on many sites, but click here for the About Quilting version. May you all be equally blessed in the weeks to come.

Luck and wisdom!


Thank Heavens For Little Bins

September 4, 2013

We had a four-day party at our house last weekend. Between the Scottish Games, family and friends, there wasn’t a dull moment. The best part was I could completely enjoy the celebrations because I turned my studio into a guest room.


The floor! The floor!

The floor! The floor!


True, a cot in the sewing room doesn’t rival the Hilton, but considering all the stuff I had to move around, I was thrilled to recover as much space as I did. Thank heavens for little bins, and totes, and hampers. After a week of sorting, consolidating and tossing, I had some things squirrled away.


Bins in the corner of my bedroom

Bins in the corner of my bedroom


Two days before company arrived, this is what I faced:


Lani Longshore totes


I also found a never-used collapsible clothes hamper that I bought for one of the kids heading off to college (I won’t comment on why the child didn’t bring it along).


A great place to put piles of fabric

A great place to put piles of fabric


My husband gave me dispensation to bring the stuff out to the garage for the duration of the visit.


Colonizing the garage

Colonizing the garage


I have to bring everything back, and the sooner the better, but at least I’ve had one sort out. If I’m clever (and my husband is patient about reclaiming his garage space), I’ll bring in one bag, tote, or bin at a time and put the contents where it belongs, not where it fits. If I’m clever . . .



Detour To The Next Big Thing

November 8, 2012

Between hiding from the political telemarketers, getting back to the tyranny of the daily routine after my mom’s visit, and gearing up for my pre-holiday fretting, the sewing room went into free-fall:

The view from the hall


The view from the sewing machine

There was a little time for creativity – the pumpkin carving, for instance. My kids both found images to copy and transfer to their pumpkins. Not trace, copy; like art students have done from the beginning of art instruction. Meredith carved a witch on a broom in front of a full moon, and Alexander carved the Sith lord who killed Qui Gon. And my pumpkin, the one from the fiber artist who loves Halloween? I carved a candle.

Can you see the face?

Maybe next year I’ll be more adventurous.

In the meantime, a writing friend of mine, Marlene Dotterer, tagged me for a blog chain. Marlene writes science fiction and fantasy, at one time had her own business as a free-lance personal chef, and is a birth coach. Marlene and I are in a science fiction writing critique group – the wordsmith equivalent of a friendship group. You can read her blog about her next big thing here.

This blog chain is about the latest writing project of the taggee. I get to tag other people, and the people I picked are:

V.Z. Byram, who writes poetry, historical fiction, and spy thrillers. She isn’t a quilter, but she sews with her grandkids. She was born in post-WWII Europe to refugee parents, whose stories formed the basis of some of her work.

Violet Carr Moore, who is one part of Carr Twins, a former foster mom, and a writer of devotional material as well as mysteries. She also is not a quilter, but used to sew period costumes for Civil War re-enactors.

J.K. Royce, a retired attorney whose “simple” snack buffet will make you weep for joy, and who writes hard-boiled crime thrillers. She has made one quilt, which proudly hangs on her wall, and (I believe) might be persuaded to make more someday.

Elaine Schmitz, a quilter, quilt judge, quilt lecturer, and writer. I had the privilege of helping her edit her cookbook, Recipes & Recollections of My Greek-American Family. She also writes fiction in a variety of genres.

So, here is my Next Big Thing Q&A, ten questions you may or may not want to ask about other things I do:

What is your working title of your book?

When Chenille Is Not Enough

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is the sequel to Death By Chenille, the quilting science fiction book I wrote with Ann Anastasio.

We had a few loose threads, so we thought we ought to weave them into something fun.

What genre does your book fall under?

Quilting Science Fiction, which is a new genre that Ann and I created. We also created the musical comedy genre of Quilting Vaudeville.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would love to see Sigourney Weaver play the main character of Susan.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Quilters save the world, again, then set off for outer space.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

We’ll be self-publishing. That’s what happens when you create new genres – people get a giggle out of what you’re doing, but the marketing department doesn’t have a clue how to sell it! Ah, well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

We’ve been working on this book a little over a year, which is a huge improvement over our last book, which took fifteen years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I hope you could find some similarity with Douglas Adams, because he was absolutely hilarious, and that’s what we were going for in the Chenille series – a good laugh.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ann and I wrote a quilt design book. An editor found our project interesting, but since we didn’t have a name outside of Northern California, we didn’t get a contract. We thought if we wrote a novel and made our reputation we could get someone to publish our design book. You know, when you don’t know something is hard, you jump in with both feet. Fifteen years later we published Death By Chenille as an ebook, started a sequel, and think about that design book now and again.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ice cream figures prominently, as does a crazy quilt.

Permission to Wander

April 25, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I went to a local art gallery to see an exhibit of quilts. The exhibit was smaller than I expected and I had almost an hour before I had to be at a meeting. Not enough time to go home and do something useful, but still too much to squander.

Or was it? I gave myself permission to wander downtown, had a delightful time, and was in a much more receptive state when I finally arrived at my meeting.

That got me thinking about my sewing room, and whether I give myself permission to wander in there often enough. I am constantly collecting materials to inspire ideas –

and supplies –


and embellishments –

but when I go in the room I’m there to work. Work implies progress, and progress implies having something to show for my time. Whether it’s a new quilt or a tidied shelf, I want to be able to prove that I haven’t squandered the day.

And yet . . . is flipping through the art books really squandering the day? Is pulling out the drawers and letting my fabric and embellishments inspire me wasting time? If I have the luxury of a day to think, to absorb, to wonder, don’t I owe it to myself as an artist to enjoy it?




Taking Good Advice

March 7, 2012

I found some useful good advice (as opposed to good advice that really doesn’t apply) from Liz Voce of Sort It Canada and Russell Jander on managing the mess. Essentially it comes down to start decluttering and look for what really works for your situation. While I accepted the wisdom of the proposition, I realized this week that I hadn’t actually gone through the steps – or at least the last step, which is recognizing what kind of a mess you have.

My sewing room is both a studio and a warehouse. It contains my own supplies, for my own projects, but also supplies for a quilting outreach program at the local prison. Only half of the space is taken up with my personal private piles. The rest is fabric and instructions for kits that I bring to my class twice a month. The piles that belong to me can and should be dealt with in a stern fashion, with only a minimal nod to sentiment. The rest should be dealt with as inventory.

Okay, so I didn’t discover the secret of the universe, but it was a revelation to me. And I acted on it. The first thing I did was evaluate the way I store my inventory:

This is only part of the fabric donated to the quilting program. The rest is in similar boxes scattered wherever I can find an empty corner. When I get through the boxes here, I replace them with the boxes from another room. The problem is, I can’t see what I’ve got, and the boxes are too big.

“Self,” I said, “you just inherited a boat load of clear storage boxes. Why don’t you take the most unwieldy cardboard box and transfer the contents?”

Taking advantage of a Top Gear marathon and Liz’s reminder that I don’t need to keep everything that is given to me, I hauled the donated fabric into the family room. I also brought my tie-dye masking tape and an indelible marker to make labels for the storage boxes. Then I spent the rest of the day sorting.

This is what I ended up with:

While the closet might not look tidy, it is more functional. All the boxes are labeled, and they’re small enough to shift. Just the process of transferring the fabric from one large cardboard box to many smaller ones let me do two things:

  1. get rid of fabric that wasn’t suitable for quilting, and
  2. set up a system that will help me say no to unsuitable fabrics in the future.

My next goal for the warehouse side is to get all of the cardboard boxes squirreled around the house (and at Margaret Misegades’ house) sorted. That still leaves me the problem of the studio side, but that’s a subject for another blog.

A View of A Room

March 23, 2011

Someday, if I am a very good girl, I may have a sewing room like Margaret Misegades. She invited me to see her studio, saying it would make me feel better about the mess in mine. Although the room is indeed full of projects-in-progress, it looked perfect to me.

I fell in love with the closets first. They cover the entire length of the wall.

Then there is the size. The former owners used it as a media room, but the savvy agent who found it for Margaret knew how she would use it.

I’m not sure I caught the whole story of how she found the house because I was still in shock and awe and – let’s be honest – envy. Massive envy. Then I noticed the furniture. My husband is a weekend woodworker, so a beautiful piece will always catch my eye. Margaret’s late husband was also a woodworker.

He put an ankh – a symbol of life – on everything he made.

Margaret shares her space with her cats, or they share it with her, depending on your point of view.

There was also a nearly finished quilt that caused me more envy – first because it is beautiful, second because it is nearly finished. Margaret hangs her strip piecing and quilt tops on a wooden clothes dryer – keeping things organized and wrinkle free.

If you live anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area and wouldn’t mind having me poke around your sewing room, camera in hand, let me know. Next week we’ll be back to my little world.

Cleaning for mom

October 13, 2010

My mom is coming to visit. She keeps a very tidy home. She knows how to organize and keep up with the organizational scheme. She has a house chock-a-block with clean flat surfaces.

Luckily, Mom loves me despite my not having a cleared off counter top to my name.

Still, before I ask her to help me in the sewing room (and believe me, I will) I wanted to make one more push on my own. With the help of my good friend, Linda Ballou, the scrap box under the window is empty. Well, it was empty – it’s full now, but full of project bags. Linda cut all the scraps into usable squares for my class kits. I took project bags that had been stuffed in corners and stacked them neatly in the box. This is progress.

You might notice those two bins under the box. They are filled with bits and pieces of things that might be useful someday. For the time being they’re going under the box. No, it isn’t quite organizing – call it a tactical retreat – but they are out of the way and that’s good enough for now.

I did attack a pile of pre-quilted samples. They were left over from another project. I decided I would use them to practice making woven fabric bowls.

What I learned is that Basket Weaving 101 is harder than you might think.

Finally, I pulled out my collection of Australian-themed fabrics and started on my next Challenge project. The assignment is Dream; I’m going to experiment with some 3-dimensional embellishments, such as the patches sticking out from the center. Those aren’t markers for another row – those are going to be panels that open and close.

I had hoped to show my mom a tidy, organized space when she came for her annual visit, but at least the room is in better shape than last year. Also, every mother loves knowing her children still need her, so I’m going to ask Mom for her advice. She may throw up her hands, she may laugh, but she’s going to be here for two weeks – and I think she’ll take the challenge.