Friday, 24 October 2014

Mood Ring Reveal & A Giveaway

Three things you need to know about this post:
1. I finished my Mood Ring quilt top.
2. I curated a fabric bundle for Australian shop, Simpson & Scarlett.
3. There's six metres of fabric to giveaway for an Aussie reader!

Nearly six months ago, I entered Australia's First Modern Quilt Show, and well, I surprisingly won the Best In Show prize. As I was snuggling this celebrity quilt last night, I contemplated those initial moments of shock, later mixed with pride. It's still one of my crowning quilting achievements, and has really opened so many doors since then. One of those doors happened to be right there at the quilt show! As I was perusing the fabric stalls, Kim Simpson of Simpson & Scarlett asked if I would be interested in curating a Molli Sparkles blogger bundle from the Riley Blake Designs Solids collection. It's true, flattery will get you everywhere with me! I quickly said yes, and Kim kindly sent me home with a charm square collection of the full range.

I picked colours across the rainbow, ensuring lots of tonal and value variation. The Riley Blake Designs Solids have a smoother texture than Kona, but there's a slight undercurrent of grey across the range. This adds an element of grown-up sophistication, even when playing with a rainbow palette. After I had decided on twelve colours (pink didn't quite make the cut), Kim sent me a half-yard bundle to start exploring.

And explore I did! This was my first time using all solids, so I made a few sketches and just went for it. In the beginning, I was having all sorts of emotional quilting dramas, until Taylor Swift helped shake off my funk. Like the ubiquitous mood ring of the 70s, this quilt colourfully shows my range of moods through its creation. Serendipitously, when I started sewing it all together, it started reminding me of a multi-coloured gemstone, and you know I'd definitely rock that, no matter what the mood!

The modern quilting movement is all about solids (so they tell me), so I wanted to keep the whole project really geometric and angular to accentuate the array of colours. As much as I love a rainbow, I sometimes feel like they are relegated to the kid's room, rather than the adult playground. For me though, this tonal rainbow feels urban and fresh, while still maintaining some of its playful charm. Because of all of this, there's a strong emotional resonance for me of all the things I felt while making it. It really is my Mood Ring.

Now, here's the part that's even better than me finishing this quilt top! Kim from Simpson & Scarlett has generously offered to giveaway a 1/2 metre bundle of these 12 fabrics (that's six metres, y'all!) to one of my Aussie readers. She's also giving everyone a discount on fat quarter and half metre bundles if you want to buy straight away (plus, there's free shipping in Australia!) 

To enter the giveaway: Leave a comment on this blog post letting me know where you're from in Australia! 
(I'll pick a random winner next week).

To purchase a discounted 1/2 metre bundle for $75: enter code SPARKLE_M at checkout.

To purchase a discounted fat quarter bundle for $35: enter code SPARKLE_F at checkout.

(From top to bottom: Navy, Rouge, Pear, Lilac, Aqua, Lagoon, Bluebird, Vintage White, Coastal Blue, Daffodil, Cayenne, Purple)

I've got the backing sorted as well, which I'll show you during this week's Sunday Stash as it is a new acquisition. As for the quilting? I was starting to think about orange peels, but I'm sure my mood will be swayed a dozen times about that one too!

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

T-Shirt Quilt Progress

I've been back at work on the t-shirt quilt this week. I haven't had as much time to sew as I would have liked due to other commitments (many of which you'll hear about eventually!) However, I did get some #quilttalking in, by putting my brother's name in fabric lights. The background is all white tone-on-tones, so it looks much more visually interesting than it appears in the photo. I guess I should start laying this sucker out or I'll soon find I need to make a few quilts to accommodate all these blocks! 

I couldn't find a literal tornado quilt block (after my exhaustive two minutes of Google-ing), so I just decided to make one up myself. Y'all know how I like to stomp to the beat of my own stilettos! I made this version by digging into my scrappy string box, and improv-ing the whole thing. This block measures 9.5" unfinished, and I am pretty definitely almost sure it would look hot on repeat! 

Confetti cannons in the air for all of you who left ideas on quilt blocks to use in this quilt. You bet your high-waisted britches I'll be using a few of them! 

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