Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Juki, the AQC and Me!

I just can't hold it in any longer! I have no idea what I was waiting for (pinch me it can't be real!), but today is the day I must tell you my most very ecstatic news. I am now a Juki Brand Ambassador! I mean, I've always thought I was something of the sort considering how many times I've recommended the brand. However, it wasn't until a few weeks ago, when I got synced up with Mr. Chow Song Jie from Juki Singapore that this shit got real, y'all.

First, I simply must give a big thank you to the Gresch family at Sewing Machine Warehouse in Penrith for making that connection happen. I met the Gresch family at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair last year when they saw me demonstrating my Juki TL-98P near the front of the entrance hall. We've had long, deep and meaningful convos since then about how Juki fits into the meaning of life. Oh, it plays an intrinsic part, trust you me!

So when the news broke that Juki representatives were coming to Australia they immediately reached out to see if I would be interested in meeting with them. Um, YES. They brought Chow over to my place for coffee and some of Mr. Sparkles's irresistible coconut and blueberry cake. I'm absolutely sure that was the secret weapon! After getting to know each other for a few hours (including a time-stopping trip into my sewing studio), Chow agreed that I would be perfect as a Juki Brand Ambassador. Maybe those weren't his exact words--he's the strong-silent type--but I could tell from his body language that he was all about it!

So what does this all even mean? Well number one, it means I get to keep on keeping on in preaching the Juki gospel! Except now, I get to wrap myself in royal blue sequins and glitter and show you how good it feels to sew at speeds of 1500 stitches per minute. It also means I'll be attending the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne on April 16-19. You'll find me demonstrating the love of my life, my Juki TL-98P in Stand 104. Besides the TL-98P, there's going to be the Juki Quilt Virtuoso Pro TL-2200 QVP 18" Longarm Machine on demo in the same booth. It's not even coming to Australia until September, but you can check it out with me at the AQC!

What it means most of all though, is that I finally get to meet the Melbourne Glitterati! I think I'll just bring every single work-in-progress I have, and demonstrate on how to finish them. Or gurl, maybe you can help me finish them?! I got piecing, I got FMQ-ing, I got binding, take your pick!  Please do come say hello! I want lots of photos, and lots of Juki test driving! 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sunday Stash #119 - The Highest Bidder

Last week as I was cleaning up the fabrics of my life, I rediscovered the yards of out of print Tula Pink fabric that were gifted to me from Grandma Sparkles. They're not totally my scene, so I've never really thought about using them all that much. Plus, Grandma Sparkles had originally purchased them after devising a quilt plan with the help of Tula Pink herself, so I never wanted to disrespect those intentions. At the same time, I didn't really want to make that quilt. So they have sat.

And now I'm all like: Sell? Keep? Trade? Make? Honestly, I've been feeling the need for some fabric cleansing (and some diamonds) so I'm leaning towards selling. There are so many ways to go about this, but #thegreatfabricdestash on Instagram seems logical. People get fanatical when purchasing, and I love it! There's nothing like frothing at the mouth over fabric--it shows your true dedication to the craft, no, the art of quilt making. There's a lot of commerce in the quilt world, so it makes sense there would be a lot of divisive opinions about what is the appropriate resell value for fabric.

Let me make myself crystal clear, I don't have a problem with anyone making a profit off anything they decide to sell. For better or worse, it's called capitalism. What I do have a problem with is people shaming others for doing so. Is it ridiculous that some out of print designer fabrics resell for $50, $75, $100 per yard on Etsy and Instagram? Yep, it sure is. I'd be an unlikely customer in that market. However, the market is there (ironically created by the very people boo-hoo-ing it), and a seller shouldn't have to "play nice" in order to cater to the sensibilities of the sewing world. Girl, get yo money! It's simple supply and demand, so don't be jealous because you didn't have the foresight (or luck) to store supplies until the demand rolled around.

If I do decide to sell my Tula goodies, you bet your hard earned dollar that they will be going to the highest bidder. Am I ashamed to admit that? Not at all, and you shouldn't be either! I applaud your ingenuity and savvy pragmatism! To that end, I went to my LQS, The Remnant Warehouse last week for Fat Quarter Friday. Lo and ten thousand Tula's below, but what did I find? Oh, just four fat quarters of out of print Parisville. Three. Dollars. Each. And that's how you werk a fabric shop!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

T-Shirt Quilt Top Finished!

Oh, I have been talking about this quilt for a while and a big long half! Late last year my brother sent me some of his high school and college t-shirts with a request to make him a t-shirt quilt. So many things happened in my brain at that very moment that now I just need to list them:

My brother wants a quilt, from me! 
Bonding moment! 
T-shirt quilts - eeewww!
Does this make me cool to him?
I've never done this before.
He wants a queen size; this could take a while.
Something called interfacing?
Every challenge is an opportunity to shine!
His college colours were purple and forest green. Ugh.
Why didn't he ask Grandma Sparkles?
There's only twelve shirts here, that's not enough!
Will he be okay if I get creative?
Don't ask, don't tell!
Birthday present!
Where do I even begin?
Comma fabric range had a good orange.
I don't have that much experience with improv piecing.
It's gonna be a big hot mess.
He'll love it no matter what.
I hope.

As you can see, there were all sorts of emotional hysterics happening before I'd even started working on this quilt! In the end though, all of those emotions helped guide the project to what I think is a very successful quilt top. Yes, it's busy, but that's what I love most about it. There is so much to explore, you could have your own Lewis & Clark adventure in bed! (Just as long as I get to be Sacagawea, ow!) The quilt top is 90" x 96" and I'm sending it off to Gemma of Pretty Bobbins for some longarm lovin'. If you're really interested in my process, you can read on for some small tidbits and inspiration about various sections of this quilt.

I used Sam Hunter's book, Quilt Talk to paper piece his name into the quilt. I then used part of a shirt and some Botanics fabric to create a flag flying over head. It doesn't get much more personalised than this!

Most of the t-shirt quilts I have seen use squares on the grid. I knew the best way to keep me from falling into that mould was to cut the shirts up into different shapes. Let the creativity flow!

My brother plays, coaches, and loves football. So I made this block (and tutorial) using tiger-striped fabric in a nod to our school mascot. Interesting side note: In high school, I earned a varsity letter in cheerleading for being the guy inside the tiger suit!

Living in Oklahoma, this is easy to forget.

This is like the science corner! Broken herringbones, atoms, positive and negative ions, dashes churning around! Comma fabric provided a great jumping off point for this quilt.

I made sure to include several wonky stars, Lord knows we are all a bit imperfect. Then there's that sparkly dot, cotton-linen blend I picked up in Japan. I mean, I had to!

This is one of the t-shirts; I'm pretty sure I burned myself when applying the interfacing to this one!

Another football, and an autumn leaf to represent going back to school and starting up the season.

This is one of two tornado blocks I made for this quilt. This is a block of my own creation (tutorial pending) and I kind of think it needs to be a whole quilt. This could be a fun bee block!

Originally intended as friendship stars, but one of the Glitterati pointed out that it was like brothers holding on to each other in an embrace. I like that.

This is one of his college shirts; purple and forest green, yeah, errr, I know. The saving grace is that purple, green and orange are all in the secondary colour family, so they harmonise well together. 

I had to make an Oklahoma block! This one is simple, but so graphically effective for a quilt like this. (Tutorial pending). We ain't known as the panhandle state for nothin'!

The eye of the tiger, you see? This was a moment where I wanted to use the scrap pieces from the footballs, and just kept trying until something made sense.

Sly reference to my photography background.

Here's another tornado block. If you didn't realise, Oklahoma is in the middle of what is called Tornado Alley. Tornadoes are part of living in Oklahoma, and despite the good and bad, they define part of your up-bringing.

My brother is also a hunter, so I'd be amiss not to include this Oh Deer! fabric. Bang!

This Terra Australis 2 selvage is from fabric donated for the Sewing For Sydney campaign, while also serving as a reference to my adopted homeland. These are both defining moments in my life that are captured so beautifully with a single scrap of fabric.

Converse Confessions, anyone? If you know me, you know my obsessions.

I turned this wonky star into a shooting star per the quote below. This design idea definitely needs some further exploration.

My favourite quote used in the quilt: "Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars...In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul." - Max Ehrmann, poet. So true, and I hope he remembers this.

This log cabin block was the first filler block I made, and I just love that USA high school jacket in the centre. It contains a scrap of my favourite fabric from 2013Little Kukla Meadow in Orange and a piece of Thesaurus fabric by Thomas Knauer. Oh, and you'll see on the right, there's also a tower of Architextures Ledger print for a bit of a math kick!

This is one of my favourite areas of the quilt. There's so much movement around this block with all those flying geese circling, changing colours, and then disappearing altogether!

I used the last of my Constellations fabric in black, because I want my brother to reach for the stars.

This was, by far, the hardest part of the quilt to piece together. This is where like 27 partial seams converged together to test my skills as an improv piecer. Making that arrow happen almost killed me, but look who's laughing now!

This is the other Oklahoma block I had to improv into place. I included the cross as a reference to Oklahoma being part of the "Heartland of America."

Much like a delectable mountain, life will have rewarding challenges, and hopefully they'll make my brother sparkle even brighter!

"Man Up." How many times did I think this while making this quilt!?

Whew! Are you dazed and confused yet? I know I am! I hope you can use some of my experiences to find inspiration the next time (if it hasn't happened yet, trust me, it will) someone important asks you to make them a t-shirt quilt. Grid or no grid, take a chance and give it some of your own flavour. I'll show you some more photos once it is quilted and bound, but for now, I'm glad to kick this quilt out of the house. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday Stash #118 - Stash Tour

After last week's post about shopping your own stash, I thought it might be a great opportunity to show you my own stash in its entirety! When we moved into our new apartment I made sure to have one of our built-in wardrobes outfitted with adjustable shelving for perfect stash storage. Forget hard wood floors, marble bench tops, and designer furniture, this is truly what quilter's dreams are made of! 

I love that this wardrobe has doors to protect my precious fabric from any sun damage, let's call it SPF 1000+! I've rearranged it a few times, (there will probably be a dozen more), but I've tried to organise it in a manner where the items I use most are at a perfect viewing angle and easily within reach.

The top left is where I keep yardage that could be used for backings, or foundation fabric for a project. The eagle-eyed amongst you might see that half this shelf is full of Tula Pink fabric, mostly from her out of print Parisville range. Right in the middle on the bottom is 4.5 yards of the Cameos in Sprout, and 1+ yards of many others. A quick scan through Etsy implies I might be sitting on a gold mine and didn't even know it! Mama, needs a new pair of shoes!

Below this shelf is where I keep some of the collections I'd like to hoard save for projects of their own. This is where I can give David Butler the heavy petting he deserves! Ow! He sits next to Carolyn Friedlander's collections, as well as Cosmos by Laura Gunn, Color Me Retro by Jeni Baker, Noteworthy by Sweetwater, Oh Deer by Momo, Kate Spain varietals, and Comma by Zen Chic. All of these are still eligible to be mixed and matched with other projects, but for now they like hanging out with their brethren. 

As you get a bit lower, you'll find my collection of solids. These are grouped by Art Gallery, Kona, and then non-designer brand homespuns. The front row is predominately neutrals, with a few "Where in the hell does this fit in?" pieces scattered throughout. (We all have those, right?!) Every time I look at this shelf I want to make a black and white quilt! Must make all the things!

Back up to the top right is where I store the fabric bundles. I don't generally buy entire collections, but sometimes it just has to be done! Shimmer, Doe, Get a Clue with Nancy Drew, Pretty Potent, it's a pretty eclectic mix up there, much like a dinner party at my house. Of all these bundles, the Nancy Drew fabric still has me stumped the most. She's like that family member that you have to love, but you don't really like, so when she shows up for Christmas dinner you spend the whole night trying not to get stuck next to the bowl of egg nog with her crazy ass. Yes, exactly like that.

This is probably my most used section. These are all fat quarter and half yard cuts in a rainbow spectrum across countless fabric ranges and designers. This is where my creative juices get their juiciest because I'm free to play with all sorts of colour and design elements with abandon! Having all these colours on one shelf allows me to pull some surprising colour combos--some disasters, some delights.

Further down is my shelf of batiks, Echino and other linen blends. This is a shelf I'd love to use more, because many of these fabrics were purchased in Japan and hold such pristine memories. My couch can only hold so many cushions though, and I've yet to make a pouch of any kind. Bad quilter, I know! I love sneaking batiks into my quilts, so maybe it's time to do so with the Echino as well. 

The bottom half of the wardrobe is where I store fabric strings and selvedges, WIPs, books, rulers, batting, my princess crown, and other miscellaneous sewing goods. Trust me, it's not always this organised, but I cleaned it up to get some good pictures for you! The only thing I haven't shown you is my scrap storage, but that's a whole other post and a half! I hope you've enjoyed checking out my relatively small stash--at least that's what I've been told--and can take some inspiration from it to build and organise your own!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Sydney Mardi Gras Photos 2015

I promised photos of my participation in this year's Sydney Mardi Gras, so here they are! I was the photographer for the Free Gay & Happy community group's parade entry called, "Come Out Come Out My Pretty!" As you'll see in the photos, it obviously had a Wizard of Oz theme going for it. The idea behind the float, was that there are still a lot of people in our communities that need help coming out, and we should still treat them with love and respect when they need it. Everyone's journey is different, but we've all been down the yellow brick road! Mr. Sparkles was the driver for the float, and you'll see an example of the crowd in the last photo. This is the 37th year for the parade with more than 10,000 people taking part, and over 300,000 lining the streets! Check out our spectacular costumes and camaraderie below as we contributed to the half a ton of glitter that's also used for the event!