Posts Tagged ‘technique’

Adapt the Rules to Fit the Worker

September 12, 2018

I love the life lessons quilting brings. There is the grand structure of the quilting universe – 1/4” seams, press to the dark, square things should always be square – then there is the reality of the individual worker. My latest Progressive project reminded me that rules are meant to instruct, not bind, and can always be adapted.

This twisted block came with two sets of instructions, neither of which worked for me. The first came from the artist who began the project, the second from another quilter in the group. I measured angles and straight lines, trying to come up with an interpretation that would achieve the desired result. Nothing worked. “Self,” I said, “just choose the block that you like best, scribe the cutting lines on the fabric you need to work with, and run with it.” I folded the seams back on each other, marked the cutting lines, and sewed the best 1/4” seam I could manage. Repeat for three rounds and you have a twisted block.

My contribution fits in well with the others in the collection, and that’s really all that matters.

Luck and wisdom!

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!

Thrift and Character Development

July 23, 2018

Noah Longshore, my dad’s father, supported a wife and four sons as a coal miner during the Depression. What he didn’t know about thrift from being the youngest of twelve children, he learned in the ’30s, and the lesson stuck. He journaled throughout his life, but would be mindful of the paper.

Lani Longshore Noah's diary

Noah’s diary

This page contains entries from four different years. Noah would use the same journal until most of the pages were full. Reading his diary was a completely new experience for me, since I am used to seeing only one year at a time. I wondered how much of what he wrote on any given day was shaped by what he had written the year before, or the year before that.

Then I wondered if this might not be a fabulous technique for character development. What does it tell you about your character if he saves paper as if it were a treasure (which, of course, it is)? What does it tell you about your character that he can review his life in chunks if he so chooses? What questions would it answer about your character if you put together three (or more) events spaced over several years on one page? Let me know if you find the idea intriguing.

The Zipper Journey

January 4, 2017

I unearthed a fabric collection that called out for a project. I knew it would make a more useful tote bag than a quilt; however, I have a gazillion tote bags. I also have a gazillion patterns for little zippered bags, so I decided to try one of them even though I’m not great with zippers (they never turn out as pretty as I would like).

The fabric, and the dreaded zipper

The fabric, and the dreaded zipper

For this bag, I decided to try putting tabs on the ends of the zipper.

This tiny rectangle of shoe fabric makes a difference

This tiny rectangle of shoe fabric makes a difference

I also decided I would take the time to baste the little critter in place.

Lani Longshore basted zipper

Who knew taking the time to do things properly was worth it?



Somewhere, my junior high home ec teacher is saying, “I told you so.”

Luck and wisdom!

Lessons From Quilting

December 7, 2016

I finished the tunic (well, almost) and two scarves.Lani Longshore tunic and scarves

The assembly went as well as could be expected. Also, I realized quilting can help with garment construction:

Use fabric that hides seams.

Lani Longshore back dart

When I was learning how to quilt – by hand and by machine – I was advised to use busy backings that would hide the thread. The dark blue silk hides the seams beautifully. As you can see in the picture, that back dart is barely visible.

Don’t point out your errors. There are plenty in this tunic, but it’s comfortable and drapes well and I’m happy.

If it’s there, it must be right. Mary Ellen Hopkins used to say that about fabric choice. Don’t explain why you used teal in a forest scene, orange in the sky, hunter green in a shadow. Likewise, I’m seriously considering angling the hem on this garment. That’s the way it hangs now, and it’s kind of a cool look.

If you must use headstrong fabric, treat it with the same patience you would a cranky toddler. The silk hides seams beautifully, but stretches horribly (even with stay-stitching – thus the hem that hangs at an angle). Careful pinning can save a frayed temper, but acceptance is sometimes the only way to maintain one’s sanity.

Iron that thing into submission. Good pressing technique is essential. My home ec teacher would have given her eye teeth if I had realized that bit of wisdom in school. Better late than never.

If all else fails, distract the viewer’s eye with something fun.

Lani Longshore scarf detail

Scarf detail

Luck and wisdom!


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!