Wednesday, 17 September 2014

WIP Wednesday - Doin' a Solid

There's quite a bit of backstory about the inspiration for this new quilt project. So much so, that I'm still flushing it all out through my brain. It began with a new and surprising benefactor, continued with feelings of indecision and unoriginality, and is (so far) concluding with a double rainbow I saw through grey storm clouds. 

I will endeavour to detail more of its origins as I proceed. I find I really need to listen to the fabric to find out what it wants to say, and ultimately "be" to me. For now though, I'm enjoying this really simple sewing, and engaging colour play. This is my first all solids quilt, and it already feels like I'm in a new, swanky martini lounge that I'd like to hang out in for a while!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WiP Wednesday! 

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Not so secret sewing.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sunday Stash #93 - Feeling Quilty

Sunday Stash is a whole hodge podge of crazy this week! Plus, I've got two winners to announce for giveaways from the past week. Let's kick things off with the Beyond Neutral Blog Tour winner!

Per my request, a whole lot of you found quiltspiration by looking outdoors, a la John Q. Adams in his book Beyond Neutral. There were 61 responses, most of which I had never even thought about being quiltspiration; you got creative alright! I couldn't decide which response was the best, so I had RNG pick a number, and Mr. Sparkles pick a random number to narrow it down. You won't even believe it, but they both said 48. Strange! I couldn't argue with fate, so, Gill, I'll be in touch to get John's e-book copy of Beyond Neutral to you! Congratulations!

Check out these printed license plates that Logan from the Men Who Quilt Facebook group sent me! I'm sure you saw these floating around during the row by row summer extravaganza in the US. Not sure how I feel about row by row quilts, but these cheeky license plates are divine! Maybe I could attach one to my Vespa!

I picked up a few fat quarters from my LQS, The Remnant Warehouse's weekly BOGO Fat Quarter Friday sale. More Comma, I know, I think I must be trying to buy out the world's supply. The other two pieces are AMH, of course, and while not a fangirl, I thought these made a nice bundle. Oh, yes, there was a fourth fat quarter, but I used it before it could be photographed for my House of Versace pillow and Cottage Windows tutorial.

This last piece is not new, but new to my fabric stash. It's a piece of linen-esque home decor weight (oxymoron?) fabric that has been stretched across a canvas as art in our apartment for nine years! Well, Mr. Sparkles and I are moving house soon, so instead of taking the canvas with us, I deconstructed it and rescued the fabric. There's about a yard there, so will make great pillow backings!

That brings us to my Second Blogiversary Giveaway for the Indian Summer cushion cover I made to celebrate. "What do you need two of?" I asked. Most of y'all were all about chocolate and coffee (yeah, me too), and close behind were all sorts of alcoholic beverages in both hands. Seriously, my Glitterati, we were meant to be together! I let Mr. Sparkles pick a random number from the 143 responses, and he chose: 77! Mary - I hope you've got some room on your couch!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go be a Quilt Diva and get some shoop-shoop-shoobeedee-doop done!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Make Modern Magazine - Realists & Dreamers

Today is my stop on the brand-spankin' new Make Modern Magazine blog hop! I've got a project featured that I've been teasing around a bit--those black hooker boots never go out of style, I'll tell you what! I created a block called a Trip Around the Universe which is an improved version of a Trip Around the World. Because really, who wants to wind up where they started off?

I then made the block in two colour ways inspired by a quote from television show Modern Family: “There are dreamers and there are realists in this world, you think the dreamers would find the dreamers and the realists would find the realists, but more often than not the opposite is true. See the dreamers need the realists to keep the dreamers from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists? Well without the dreamers, they might not ever get off the ground.”

The red-Earthy version represents the Realists, while the teal-sky version represents the Dreamers.  I'll let you guess which one I am! You can see pictures of both colour ways and the full pattern release in the debut of Make Modern Magazine, on sale now! There are an amazing range of projects from some of my favourite people, so I know they are soon to be your favourites too!

Make Modern

Full Blog Tour Roster:
1st September                   Make Modern
3rd September                   Kristy @ Quiet Play
5th September                   Where Jane Creates
7th September                   Gina @ Party of Eight: Our Story
9th September                   Molli Sparkles
11th September                 Juliet @ The Tartan Kiwi
13th September                 cat&vee
15th September                 Ruth @ Ben and Charly’s corner
17th September                 Kelly @ Kelliotmagic
19th September                 Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts
21st September                 Serena @ Sew Giving
23rd September                 Melissa @ Ms Midge
25th September                 Anne @ Hudson Valley Quilts

Monday, 8 September 2014

#NGAQB - August

The illustrious Shaun Abels (IG: slabels) was the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee king for August. Unbeknownst to him, he chose a block that some lesser was trying to pass off as their own, when it had so obvs been copyrighted two years prior. We are all about protecting the creator's intellectual property in the #NGAQB, so once informed, Shaun gladly switched gears and decided it would be a month of Maker's Choice! Woo! 

Shaun's a bit too shy to write up a fully detailed account of himself, so me and the gents put together a few of the things we've learned about him below.

1. Shaun likes big butts and he can not lie.

2. His drag queen name is Dixie Normous.

3. His favourite pants are quilted leather assless chaps.

4. The real reason he moved to the UK was so that he could freely perform "Baby Got Back" as Dixie Normous, while wearing his quilted leather assless chaps. You should see his tip jar!

5. His favourite pick up line is "Helllllo, sailor!" It works.

6. His first real job was slinging chicken wings as a Hooters girl. He still gardens in his orange shorts.

7. He considers Tula Pink a personal hero, second only to Nicki Minaj.

I used my String Piecing Without a Foundation Tutorial to whip up these two blocks. I keep my strings sorted by warm and cool colours, so I just went scrappy and let the strings do the rest. I even managed to make a small dent in my collection! I'm loving how they look together and now want to make a quilt for me! Sigh, add it to the list!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sunday Stash #92 - Second Blogiversary Giveaway

Two years ago I started this blog with reckless hope and abandon. To say a lot has happened since then would be just a hair flick of an understatement. I won't even begin to recount it all, as so many of you have been with me on this incredible journey. Thank you from the bottom of my achey-breaky heart for your continuous support! So let's throw some glitter in the air already!

I had a spare string block hanging around that I made using my String Piecing Without a Foundation tutorial (I'll show you some more of them on Monday). Instead of saving it for that inevitable Kitchen Sink quilt, I thought I'd whip up a cushion and give it to one of you! This is my way of saying thanks to all those that have kicked their fabulous shoes off at the door and decided to stay a while.

I bordered this string block with Yarn Dyed Essex, backed it in Heather Ross's original Far Far Away II, and added a contrasting pink zipper. You'll notice I even did some experimental quilting--just so I could impress you much! It finishes at 18", and if my couch wasn't already over run with cushions this one would have been hard to let go.

I'm calling it Indian Summer as I know most of you northern hemisphere folk are seeing the last minutes of summer before sliding into the crisp autumnal air. I've left this week's Sunday Stash linky open, even though I'll be showing off my contributions next week. (I'll probably have even more fabric to show by then--oh dear!)

To enter to win my Indian Summer cushion, simply leave a comment naming something you would like to have two of! Me? I always like to have two bowls of cereal. This giveaway is open internationally, and I'll announce the winner at next week's Sunday Stash. Thank you again, to all of the Glitterati for, you know, staying sparkly!

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Friday, 5 September 2014

TGIFF - Cottage Window Tutorial + House of Versace Pillow

So The Fully Sick quilt may not exactly be a super star, but I couldn't possibly give up on the block I created to make it. I've decided to call it the Cottage Window block, due to the original fabric choices of The Fully Sick quilt. It's all sorts of small, floral, country-cottage kitsch. Well, that may be my home on the English country-side, but my normal digs look more like the House of Versace! I had to prove how versatile this block is, and if you're interested I've provided a tutorial below.

I knew the Cottage Window block needed a second chance to really shine. If it has to prove its way into gold lamé heaven, who better than me to give it some wings?! I promise you though, no Kylie hot pants were harmed in the making of this 18" pillow! I simply created four Cottage Window blocks, in opposing fabric placements, to give it some modern-Studio-54-realness.

I found this Michael Miller gold tiles fat quarter at my LQS, The Remnant Warehouse. It was going to feature in this week's Sunday Stash, but I got a tad ahead of myself. I combined it with Art Gallery Pure Elements in black in keeping with the luxe vibe. When all four blocks were finished, I added some straight line quilting along the edges of the block, and some concentric squares in the middle where the four blocks meet.

For the back I used Art Gallery Living Elements in gold yellow to make a giant statement. You know, because gold lamé is never enough. Seriously. Then I added my fave closure, a fully-exposed side-zip. Remember, I'm a gay man, I don't wanna be messin' with any flaps!

The Fully Sick Quilt versus The House of Versace Pillow: what a difference fabric selection makes! This was just what I needed y'all, time to start Bringin' Blingin' Back! 

Cottage Window Block Tutorial

1. Fabric Requirements for one block.

2. Assemble (2) - 5” squares of a coloured fabric.  Assemble (2) - 5” squares of a neutral fabric.

3.  Create (4) half square triangle units (HST) from these pieces.  
- Place a coloured square and neutral square right sides together.
- Draw a line diagonally across the squares.
- Sew a 1/4” on either side of this line.
- Cut each square apart on the drawn diagonal line.
- Press open with the seam towards the coloured piece.

4.  Trim HSTs to 4.5” square.

5.  Assemble (4) - 3.25” squares of the coloured fabric.

6.  Draw a diagonal line on the back side of each 3.25” square.

7. Place one of the 3.25” squares right side together with each HST as per the diagram.  Sew along the drawn line.

8.  Cut a 1/4” from this sewn diagonal line, and discard these pieces. (Note: You can use these fabric scraps to create another HST.)

9. Press open with the seam towards the coloured piece. Repeat this process on all four HSTs.

10.  Arrange these units per the diagram below.

11.  Assemble (2) - 5” x 1.5” neutral pieces, and combine with adjacent units. These neutral pieces are intentionally longer to allow for any variation in block size.

12.  Trim the edges of the neutral pieces to create squared up rectangles.

13.  Assemble (1) 10” x 1.5” neutral piece, and combine with adjacent units. This neutral piece is intentionally longer to allow for any variation in block size.

14.  Trim back to square up block, and it is now complete at 9.5”.

Linking up with TGIFF and Crazy Mom Quilts!

I can see clearly now.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

WIP Wednesday - The Fully Sick Quilt

How do you spell that noise that happens when you keep your lips pressed together and blow air through them, while they flap against each other? If you know how, insert it here! Suffice to say that rainbow matchstick quilting didn't go so well.

As soon as I had run up a few test lines it had me saying, "Hmm, umm, well, maybe? but maybe not?" I think this is what happens when you try to work on a sick quilt, when you're not actually feeling sick. I took to Instagram (IG: molli_sparkles) to get a second opinion ... 

"The thread is fighting with the fabrics. It could get better but I'm not sure it will." - (IG: ellascottage)
"Ditch the thread." - (IG: leebee81)
"The Marrakech is not working on the white background. Tear out thread." - (IG: urun2bfit)
"There's not enough Molli Sparkles in this quilt." - (IG: kmkauckland)
"You wouldn't like my tea today so I offer coffee instead." (IG: negligentstyle)
"What I was really looking for was a 'yuk.' #notdoinitformemoll #unpickquickmoll" (IG: appliqueensal)

That was only 6 of the 40 responses! After those last two hash tags from Salley, I knew it had gots to go!

See, this is why Truth Tea is so important! If everyone had just been all, "Oh, it's so pretty! Good job!" I probably would have convinced myself into thinking it was heading in the right direction. Then eighty bazillion hours and even more lines of matchstick quilting later, I would have been the proud owner of one big-butt-ugly quilt. Sometimes, you just gotta be told!

So it has now been unpicked (whew! that was kinda fun!) and I'm starting on some stitch in the ditch quilting. I may stop there because honestly, I'm getting kinda sick and tired of The Fully Sick Quilt. I want my bright colours baaaaaacck! #nowipleftbehind I am learning lots about quilting, FMQ, thread choice, and my overall aesthetic though. Not a total loss, but I'll show you something this TGIFF that might offer a little bit of redemption for me and this block. 

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WiP Wednesday! 

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Bringin' blingin' back.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Beyond Neutral Blog Tour

You might know John Q. Adams better as Quilt Dad, but I know him as Mr. April in the NGAQB. He was one of the first male quilters I stumbled across at the beginning of my quilt journey, and he quickly became a source of inspiration. It wasn't until we became friends in the NGAQB that I got to see his talent first-hand. So when I heard he had a book coming out I approached him with something like, "Please, please, puh-lease, if you have a book blog tour can I be on it? Who's more beyond neutral than Molli Sparkles?!" Thankfully, he said yes!

Here it is folks: Beyond Neutral, Quilts Inspired by Nature's Elements by John Q. Adams featuring 16 quilt patterns and the inspiration for each. Now I have a small confession to make. This is the first quilt book I've ever looked through. Wha? I know. I've never actually seen a quilt book in the flesh, or even flipped through one at a book store. Thankfully, I was sent a digital copy of this book, or I'd probably never see it at all! I'm not sure how other publishers do it, but I think that is a pretty good service of Martingale to sell a Print Version or an eBook only version. 

As I read John's book one of the things that stood out to me the most was his use of large scale prints.  Looking through my own stash, I notice I usually shy away from those in favour of the medium and small scale. So if you're looking for some ideas on how to use your large scale prints that have been haunting you since 2008, this could be the book for you! He manages to use them in much more interesting ways than layer cake-esque squares too.

Glimmerglass (above) is my favourite because it utilises these large scale prints in multiple ways. There's such movement and variety in the one quilt. You can easily see how there could be a multitude of "make it your own" style design changes to this pattern. That's pretty typical for all of John's patterns too. The foundations for each are easy to complete, and they give you complete flexibility to create outside of your typical constraints. 

One of John's goals for this book was to show how you can go Beyond Neutral in your quilt making. That means, you don't always have to use white or cream as that contrasting, neutral background. I know you see it everywhere, and it has become somewhat of an unspoken rule, but it is time to break free! You know I'm fully on board this colour train, but if you need more choo-choo in your caboose, check out John's book for a full onslaught of colour inspiration. It's time to turn your low volume world up, up, up!

(All photos courtesy of Martingale and photographer Brett Kane.)

I have an eBook copy of Beyond Neutral to giveaway! Let's make it interesting shall we? To win, go outside and find the most interesting natural element that could be a source of quiltspiration. Trees, sunset, rosebush = BORING. Try again, then leave it in the comments. The most interesting and creative response wins, which I will reveal this time next week. Good luck!