Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday Stash #98 - Glad To Be Back

It's so good to be home! I spent the better part of this past week in Hong Kong--my first time there. I've been to a lot of places around the world, and Hong Kong has not made my list of faves. My eyes are sore from the pollution, I watched frogs being served up at dinner (while they were still twitching, mind you!) and the full brunt of consumerist society sitting on top of a city and population that must be truly blinded by it. All of it, except maybe the hotel breakfast, made me truly uncomfortable. My own bed has never felt so good! 

I even went looking for fabric one night. I found literally dozens of shop fronts showcasing their wares, although most fell more into the clothing / home dec / bedding categories. I just couldn't get on board, and walked away with nothing. However, when I got home, a lovely package from Intrepid Thread was waiting for me. This is about nine yards of Art Gallery Pure Elements Linen White which means I can finally start on my commissioned AMH feathers quilt! The Linen White is a close match to Kona Snow, but takes the level of luxe to new heights! Fire up the sewing machine, because it's time to get busy!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sunday Stash #97 - What I Paid For Designer Fabric

Like most of the entire blog community, this week I read the fantastic article, "What You Should Pay For Designer Fabric" from the Right Sides Together blog. Whether you (dis)agree with the arguments, it's a smorgasbord of food for thought! Personally, I probably fall somewhere in the middle. For sure I want to find fabric at the cheapest rate, but I also want the fabric shops / small business owners that I love to succeed. It's an incredibly fine, fine line.

So when I got the email blast that my LQS, The Remnant Warehouse, had a 25% off sale this weekend, I figured that was a sign from the fabric deities. I picked up a metre of hunter green homespun, and this Comma roll, both for Cody's t-shirt quilt. (Surprisingly, I didn't have any of that Comma in my stash!) I left the price tag on, so you can bear witness to the prices we pay in Australia. 

1.5 metres = 1.64 yards
$36.00 AUD (tax inclusive) = $31.28 USD

1.64 yards, purchased at $31.28 USD = $19.07 USD / yard at regular price.

After the 25% discount, that roll of Comma cost $14.30 USD / yard.

I'm not faulting my LQS for this. They have a business, and they deserve to turn a profit; after all, they're not a charity! On the flip side, you can see there's quite a discrepancy between the regular price in the US, versus here in Australia, even when fabric is on sale. Honestly, I don't know the solution. However, all I can do for now is to continue to purchase from both my LQS and overseas to support both the small business owner, and my wallet.

I'm flying to Hong Kong today, so there will be mostly radio silence on the blog for the rest of the week. You'll undoubtedly find me over on Instagram (IG: molli_sparkles), where I'll be posting images of my first trip there. I'm not sure I'll have much time to fabric shop, but if I do, you can be sure I'll find the good stuff!

Friday, 10 October 2014

T-Shirt Quilt: Challenge Accepted

A few weeks ago during Sunday Stash #95 I showed you a bundle of t-shirts my brother, Cody, had sent me to make him a queen-sized t-shirt quilt. He'd only sent fifteen, with three of them being the same shirt! Now, he's a big guy, being a college football player and all, so there is plenty of t-shirt fabric to work with. However, there was no way I was ever going to just cut these shirts into squares, sew them together and be done with it. Bor-ing. Come on, let's spice it up! 

I cruised over to Instagram for some #tshirtquilt inspiration, and found none. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Looks like I'm gonna have to rescue this genre from the same-same bucket. Just so we're clear, I'm not looking down my pretty nose at any on-grid t-shirt quilts. Grandma Sparkles made me mine exactly like that, and it is my go-to couch quilt. (I'll be sure to get you some pictures of it before this process is complete.) Instead, I want to make a t-shirt quilt that inspires you to try something a little bit different!

The t-shirts are toned, secondary colours of orange, purple and green, with lots of neutrals of black, white, and grey. I've pulled coordinating fabrics that tend to have a more masculine vibe. This resulted in a lot of Comma, Botanics and Architextures, random fat quarters here and there, and (gasp!) batiks. I have been busily making random filler blocks to combine with the differently shaped and sized logos from the t-shirts. I want there to be a lot to discover in this quilt, with only the colours tying it together.

It has been so creatively exciting! I wake up each morning thinking, "Hmm... well, what block do you want to make today?!" Oh, and there have been many! This has been a great opportunity to explore blocks I haven't made before. For instance, I don't want to make 752 Economy Blocks for an entire quilt, but I whipped up a couple just to throw in here randomly. I've still got lots of fabrics in my pull to work with, so there's a whole variety of blocks still waiting to be made. There's going to be nothing boring about this t-shirt quilt, fo'sho!

So I have two questions for you, Glitterati:

1. What other blocks should I throw in here? (Don't say Churn Dash, because I am not a fan). The only definite thing left on my list to make is four Road to Oklahoma blocks. 

2. My brother likes typical Oklahoma, guy things. You know, hunting and fishing, stuff like that. I'm wondering if any of you have any scraps, or charm squares containing these types of things I could put in the quilt, preferably in this colour way? Nothing too tacky, but some fussy cutting could be a lot of fun in this quilt! I am, of course, happy to pay or trade for such things.

This is going to be one mutha of a jigsaw puzzle. Challenge accepted.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Quilt Talk by Sam Hunter - Giveaway

If you know Sam Hunter at all, you know she is a feisty lady! The first time I encountered Sam was when she slammed the blogsphere with her We Are $ew Worth It campaign. I was still in my first year of quilting and blogging, and it really resonated with me because, like her, I valued myself as an artist. I had been around long enough to see many quilters shyly devaluing their work, or selling quilts for pennies. This was all to my dismay, and along comes this fireball Sam, who completely calls it out to the world. It was the first time I had been truly moved with conviction by a quilting blog post. I felt it was a call to action, and I had to lend my support to this most valuable of campaigns. That's when I started on my own No Value Does Not Equal Free project, and my relationship with Sam Hunter was solidified. She is a pillar of our community, so when she asked me to participate in her book tour, I gladly said YES!

Sam has written the most wonderfully wordy book called Quilt Talk! It focuses on paper pieced projects using her provided patterns for letters, numbers, punctuation... there's even an umlaut in there! I'm no paper piecing expert, but Sam's instructions on paper piecing were incredibly clear, concise and super-easy to follow. All of the projects are written so that you can scale the patterned letters to any size you want. So now you can make that naughty-word mug rug, or shout king-sized expletives in a quilt! My secret word-quilt project? I am dying to make a quilt featuring the spoken-word section of Madonna's Vogue:

Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it

As part of this blog hop, Sam is giving everyone the paper pieced pattern for colour words and how to use them to make the buckets on the cover of her book. Our relationship through my No Value Does Not Equal Free quilt led to her assigning me the colour white. I set about to make a bucket for my stash of fabric, and then was all like, "Girl, you don't need a bucket, you need a trailer!" So I, decided to put my bucket aspirations aside, and created this rainbow white panel instead. I'm not exactly sure of it's final destination, but it was totally fun (and easy) to make! Make sure you check out all of the other blog stops because you can download all the words of the rainbow!

So here's the other good news: You can win a physical copy of this book, and then play scrabble with all your future quilt projects! Because Sam values her Aussie and Kiwi fans, this giveaway is just for us! If you live elsewhere, make sure you hit all the other stops on the blog tour to win a copy. To enter, simply leave a comment with some words you'd like to put into your own project, and I'll draw a random winner this time next week. Thanks again to Sam, and C&T Publishing!

***EDIT: Giveaway is now closed.***
WINNER: #4 Laurelle!

Who's Hosting?

Bright Sky QAL - Echo

It's time to pop some bottles of Vueve, because it's my stop on the Bright Sky Quilt Along! Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts created this giant, one-block, quilt pattern that allows you to showcase some of those larger-scaled prints you have hiding in your stash. During this week of the QAL, Alyce is chatting about piecing the centre star, so I want to share some of my experiences.

When I was first asked to be a part of this QAL I almost said, "Eh, um, not so sure..." because I don't have many large-scale fabrics in my stash. However, I knew I couldn't let my girl Alyce down, so I agreed to make it work. My first fabric pull was full of Laura Gunn florals because of their scale. This was at about the same time I was screaming at The Fully Sick Quilt for being so full of fabric that I wasn't feelin'. Laura Gunn florals are lovely, for sure, but if you know me at all, they're certainly not in my wheelhouse. After spending days trying to make them work, I refolded and put them back in the stash.

Tip #1: Use fabrics that inspire you right now, because your quilt is worth it.

That left me confused about the centre panel. Heavens to Betsi, I was in a fabric mess! Then I found the yardage of Tula Pink's Saltwater line I had amassed. Again, nothing felt right until I unfolded my lone fat quarter of Sea Stripes in Aqua. You've probably never noticed, but I don't really like using stripes because of their potential for directional chaos. This time though, I thought I could fussy cut it to turn those stripes into a feature. Immediately, I started seeing sound waves, or the resounding sounds of an echo. Quickly and quietly the other Saltwater prints fell into place. 

Tip #2: Think outside the square for your centre panel. 

Once all of my fabric was sorted, I was ready to start cutting and sewing. Be aware that there are some bias sewing requirements in this pattern, but don't run away! A lot of people use pins to assist with this, but I'm a big, heartachin' fan of Clover Wonder Clips. Seriously, just get them. Once I got all my pieces cut out, I thought I'd even go a step further and spray starch some to assist with those bias edges. Uh oh. As I ran my iron over these starched pieces I saw them shrink before my eyes! Let's just say that I sent frantic text messages to a whole bunch of people, drank a lot Vueve, and then set about cutting those pieces again.

Tip #3: Clover Wonder Clips, and starch your fabrics before you cut them.

Once that little drama was over, the rest was as smooth as a drag queen's chin at the beginning of a good night out! I really enjoyed putting this quilt top together, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a simple, effective and quick quilt finish. I haven't decided how to quilt it yet (or a backing for that matter), so I know I'll be paying attention to the free motion quilting posts towards the end of the QAL! Speaking of the end, there's gonna be some great prizes to win for all those that enter the linky. I can't wait!

If you're on Instagram (IG: molli_sparkles), you'll find all sorts of activity for this QAL. Tag your progress with #brightskyquilt to see what everyone is up to. Even better, Alyce and Patchwork Threads are giving away Limited Edition Bright Sky shirts for those that tag their pics with #pwtbrightskyqal. This QAL has its own shirt, have you ever?! Okay, I think that's all you need to know to get started, and let's hear it for the boy as I figure out how to get this one finished!

Bright Sky QAL Schedule

Getting ready:
Monday, 29th September - Choosing Fabrics Tips - Blossom Heart Quilts

Week 1: Centre Star
Monday, 6th October - BHQ
Wednesday, 8th October - Molli Sparkles (<-- That's me!)

Week 2: Piece Outer Star
Monday, 13th October - BHQ
Wednesday, 15th October - My Fabric Relish

Week 3: Piece Quilt Top + Backing
Monday, 20th October - BHQ
Wednesday, 22nd October - Ms Midge

Week 4: Quilting
Monday, 27th October - Pretty Bobbins free motion quilting guest post here at BHQ
Wednesday, 29th October - A Stitch In Between (Bright Sky mini)

Week 5: Quilting
Monday, 3rd November - Elven Garden Quilts free motion quilting guest post here at BHQ

Week 6: Final Linky
Monday, 10th November - Linky opens at BHQ for a week

Monday, 17th November - Linky closes and voting opens for Viewers' Choice award
Friday, 21st November - Winners announced!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

#NGAQB - September

The No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee is going to be getting some additional press in the coming months! I've recently had several official enquiries about the group, so I'll be sure to share them when they go to print. Crazy what happens with just a little idea...

Speaking of crazy, the September King Bee really needs zero introduction. When Giucy Giuce  (Giuseppe, if you must) decided to join the NGAQB I popped some bottles, let me tell you! I had seen him around the 'Gram, and crushed on his rainbow aesthetic. He's also besties with just about everyone that matters, including your mom. For September, he made some pretty specific requests for his blocks, while at the same time giving us all complete flexibility!

"I would love for each of you to create any block you would like in any size you would like. You could do a really big block (maybe an 18” or a 24”), or maybe you wouldn’t mind making me some smaller blocks (perhaps 6” or 8”), and anything in between. I don’t think I want to go any smaller than 6” and any larger than 24”. They don’t even need to be blocks. They can be strips or rectangles too! Would love to see some big triangles in there, as well. Been slightly obsessed with them as of late. Would also love a couple of wonky stars in different sizes. You could do a couple of different smaller blocks if you wanted. Have at it. ... But Joshua: I would love a color order Union Jack block. Would you Union Jack me?"

How could I say no to that? Giucy went on to describe his colour requirements:

"As far as color goes, you may or may not know this about me, but I am a whore for color order (a color whorder, if you will). Surprisingly though, I only have one color order quilt. Soooo I would love blocks that move in color order: they can move out from the center of the block, across the block, however you like. For the background I want to try to achieve a super scrappy tea-stained look. Feel free to use any whites or creams that you would like. Should you choose to use a print (you are welcome to), I would prefer that they stay very low-volume. And feel free to mix it up and use different tones in your backgrounds."

Can you already see how scraptastically beautiful this quilt is going to be? Yeah, me too.

Instagram: giucy_giuce

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday Stash #96 - Ostrich Leather & Bright Skies

I was walking to the supermarket this past week, and wouldn't you know it, but a pop-up discount fabric shop has, well, popped-up right in my path of travel! Now when something like that happens, you can't deny yourself a look-in, right? Upon inspection, the fabrics were mostly home decor and synthetics. While beautiful, there were none that I needed to buy a minimum metre cut of, especially when they were all on the pricier side. They weren't over-priced, I just don't need to put $30 / metre Sensuede in my quilts. However, after investigating the actual cost of Sensuede, I'm beginning to think I should!

As I was walking out the door though, I found a remnant basket full of goodies to the extreme! La la laaaaa! Gold! There was a whole basket dedicated to leathers, and upon pulling out this piece of faux ostrich leather in a luxurious burgundy, I couldn't resist. It's about a third of a metre, and it was $10: Wrap it up! I'll take it! It's sold! For now, I'm thinking a simple cushion, but I'd be intrigued to see if it can be patchworked with some Echino. Any of the Glitterati have experience with this type of thing? I've read up about leather needles, poly thread, and not to use pins, but if you have other suggestions feel free to share.

While you're doing that, I want to tease you with some secret sewing that I will fully reveal this Wednesday, October 8. My great friend Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts is hosting her Bright Sky QAL and she asked me to be a part of it. I'll give you the full glass of Vueve on Wednesday, but for now you need to know:
  • You can make this quilt top in a day. Seriously. Or, over two nights, while sipping wine.
  • This QAL has its own t-shirt. Say wha? That's just one of the amazing prizes to be won.
  • The pattern is on sale until Wednesday for $6.95. Forget McDonald's, this is a true value meal!

Now, finally, I realised I never selected a winner of Down Under Quilts magazine featuring my On the Flip Side pattern. How forgetful of me! Let's remedy that right now... RNG chose #19 which is Lisa R who thought my People Palette needed some Kona Latte. That sounds delish to me!

Friday, 3 October 2014

TGIFF - The Fully Sick Quilt

I started The Fully Sick Quilt during an August week of actual sickness. I hadn't been bed-bound in years, so it literally knocked me off my feet. Despite the coughing, sputtering, feverish chills, and hot flashes, I dosed up on some cold and flu meds, then went to work. I created what I called my Cottage Windows block, along with a tutorial, and went stash diving.

I have inherited a lot of various fabric from Grandma Sparkles (Magic Suitcase for the win!) through the years. Some of it has been fresh, modern and chic, while some of it has been plucked straight from 1997. Amongst it all, were several fat eighths of 1930s repros, and other traditional floral motifs. In an effort to push these out of my stash for good, I combined them with some fabrics of my own devices (e.g. Denyse Schmidt, American Jane) to create a down-home, country-esque, rainbow aesthetic. 

The cream framings utilise floral tone on tone fabrics originally used in my Bartering for Flowers quilt, and from more modern collections like Mirror Ball Dot and Botanics. I may have been fully sick, but I wasn't fully dead! The back is yardage of Salt Air Blooms in Coral, combined with Art Gallery Pure Elements stripes for a little extra width. 

One of my good friends called it all "floral vomit" and while I can't disagree, at least all the flowers and vomit are hanging out together! In the end, after a match stick quilting disaster, I settled on some stitching in the ditch around each block. In all honesty, I couldn't bear to spend any more time on it than absolutely necessary. I then bound it with Genealogy Azul from Angela Walter's Legacy collection.

Listen, if I'm serving up my own cold, glass of truth tea, I'll agree it's not a total aesthetic powerhouse, but I'm still glad it exists. It definitely has too many ideas competing for attention, and none of them are actually all that strong. The backing fabric, while a bit more traditional, still doesn't feel quite right, especially with that more modern stripe. Plus, you know, I'm a modern gal, and this drags me back to my Okla-home-land.

That being said, it's cleared out room for more (and better) fabrics. Despite some of the floral motifs, I'm kinda diggin' the muted, tonal rainbow. Using a rainbow spectrum with a lot of varying values assists in movement, depth and visual interest. The Fully Sick Quilt also gave me reason to write up another tutorial, and finally, it led to making The House of Versace cushion.

Which, if you ask me, is truly, fully sick! It's amazing how a few fabric changes can take a pattern from ho-hum, to a vocal octave worthy only of Mariah Carey! Sing if you're winning, indeed. 

Title: The Fully Sick Quilt
Size: 45" x 55"
Pattern: Cottage Windows, tutorial by Molli Sparkles
Fabric: A cacophony of traditional, rainbow 1930s repros and florals
Quilting: Stitch in the ditch, using Aurifil 50wt, colour 2024 White
Binding: hand stitched with Aurifil 50wt, colour 2024 White
Backing: Pieced backing of Salt Air Blooms in Coral and Art Gallery Pure Elements
Favourite Part: Even though I don't love it, I've already found someone who will.

Linking up with TGIFF and Crazy Mom Quilts!

I'm just glad I'm well again.