Friday, 29 May 2015

Modern Quilt Show Australia

Just a quick chime in today to let you know that my No Value Does Not Equal Free quilt (the first quilt to break the Internet) will be part of this weekend's Modern Quilt Show Australia. The Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild is hosting this annual show at The Pavillion in Kiama, NSW. So if you're local, and needing some real life quilty goodness, beaches, a blowhole, and some sleepy town fun, it's the place to be this weekend!

For all you lovers of math, look what I found in the archives. It's a sketch book page of calculations determining exactly how many square inches of fabric potentially to be used and then the cost associated with it. Nerd alert!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop

We've all gotta start somewhere, right? No one starts blogging on day one and is immediately a superstar. I mean, of course I always thought I was, but you've gots to work hard to get noticed in this ever-saturated market. I've got a tip for all you newbies though. Get involved with the New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop. How do I know this? Well, because I am an alumni of the class of 2013! Woot! Woot! It was quite an exquisite vintage. All of your fave blogs now, yeah, they were part of this group, too! (Seriously, this is only twenty of them, but it reads like a Who's Who list!)

Amy @ 13 Spools
Adrianne @ On The Windy Side
Laura @ Little And Lots
Leigh Anne @ Ella's Cottage
Michelle @ Factotum Of Arts
Christa @ Christa Quilts!
Stephanie @ Quarter Incher
Anne @ PlayCrafts
Cath @ Wombat Quilts
Nicole @ Modern Handcraft
Kelsey and Amanda @ Everyday Fray

With all this talent in one spot, you can see how you'd want to get yourself caught up with something like this. The hosts this year are Yvonne @ Quilting JetgirlCheryl @ Meadow Mist DesignsStephanie @ Late Night Quilter, and Terri Ann @ Childlike Fascination. They asked me to spread the word about this opportunity, so I'm telling you now, do yourself a service and make it happen! It could very well change your blogging life. Check out the full details below, and I'll be sharing some Sparkling Advice for New Quilt Bloggers next week.

2015 New Quilt Bloggers Group

2015 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop Sign Up

If you are interested in participating in the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop and have been blogging
  1. mainly about modern quilting (modern quilting to you is modern quilting to us),
  2. for less than 2 years,
  3. writing at least 4 posts a month,
  4. are willing to agree to be actively involved in the blog hop through visiting and commenting on the other blogger’s hop posts,
  5. and have or are willing to open a Facebook account to participate in the group discussions,

Note that they will accept up to 100 participants for the blog hop this year. The sign up form will be available until May 31, 2015, or until they reach 100 participants.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Fabric Sketches and Birthdays

Thank you to everyone for your sparkling Happy Birthday wishes! I turned an ever-youthful thirty-four on Tuesday, 26 May, and it was a wonderful day. The funniest thing about my birthday these days is that Mr. Sparkles's birthday is the day after on 27 May. (Say hello in the comments!) Can you imagine two Geminis together for ten years? No wonder I have a split personality!

I've been contemplating my next big project a lot, so I've been a bit creatively restless. Making a quilt is obviously a big commitment, and after finishing up two queen-sized quilts recently, I'm just feeling hesitant. To that end, I've started playing around with various scraps to see if anything strikes my fancy. These aren't the fabrics I would use, nor these colours, just playing around more with technique and composition at the moment. Let's just call them fabric sketches.

Then this big scrap heap is a 15" x 18" block made from all the crazy left overs from the Lost Feathers of an Angel quilt. If you've made those AMH feathers, you know the shardy scraps you get from the strip sets after you cut out the feather shapes. I couldn't throw all that fabric goodness away so I sewed it all back up into this mess. I'm thinking of slicing it on the diagonal, adding a neutral, and turning it into two throw cushions. More matchstick quilting: yes.

I know you've seen hundreds of these before! Of course it is Carolyn Friedlander's Shirts pattern, and I'm so excited I finally made one! This was only my test block, as I've got a very special and sensitive project coming up using this pattern. I kind of want my own quilt of shirts now too though. Ugh, must make all the things! 

So yeah, as you can see, my birthday brings a lot of random things. It feels good to spit out ideas into fabric though, otherwise my brain might just explode glitter all over the place. Now wouldn't you like to see that!?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sunday Stash #127 - Two Greens & A Brown

Whew, I got my order from Intrepid Thread right in the nick of time for this week's Sunday Stash! These greens are Kona Sour Apple and Kona Leprechaun, and let me tell you, they were not easy to choose. How do y'all do it when looking at your Kona card? Those little swatches are just big enough to make me think I know what I want, and just small enough to make it impossible to decide. Please don't use my photo to reference your colours though, the lighting here today was wackadoo!

Oh, and look, I bought some brown fabric! Gasp! In another modern quilting universe the Earth just stopped spinning. I know. This is American Brand Made solids in get this, brown. You can't help but chuckle now when you wind up with fabric that doesn't have a marketing name like chestnut, mocha or sable. Those Kona peeps be gettin' creative!

Don't ask me what I'm making with these because it's all top secret and stuff. So top secret that I won't be able to share it with you until next April. For realz, I'm now working towards deadlines a year in advance. Yeah, blows my mind too, I could be dead by then. With that thought I best get busy!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

You Charged What?!

You ready to get the truth tea on the cost breakdown of my latest quilt, Lost Feathers of an Angel? Thank you to those who fathomed a guess last week; it really showed the dichotomy in how we think about pricing our quilts. It's a tough one, I know! Until I started costing my quilts, I never would have figured there was so much cashola wrapped up in them. Some of your guesses were way low, and others were spot on the money! (My work here is done! :::shoulder shrug::: Woot! Woot!) 

If I may have a serious moment, let me preface the pricing conversation by saying that I charge $30.00 AUD per hour ($23.50 USD) when I'm making a quilt. Some might feel this is pricey, but I think it sits about mid-range for speciality creative labour, especially in an urban metropolis like Sydney. (e.g. A plumber charges $60.00 per hour). The original values in my costing sheet are in Australian dollars, but they are converted to US dollars in the notes column. Current exchange rate is $1.00 AUD = $0.782 USD, which has held semi-steady over the past six months, so I've used it as the exchange rate for the fabrics I purchased in the US late last year. 

Summing up all the components of this queen-sized quilt equals ... $3500.00 AUD ($2750.00 USD)!  Can you even believe?! While that might be a bit shocking for some, I'm really not surprised. Quilting takes time. You know I don't even need to say it, but time is money. The labour charges for this quilt account for about 72% of the total cost. I think I best take out some insurance for my magic hands! And yes, I did add in a 20% profit margin to reiterate that all retail items include some form of this hidden charge whether you think it is fair or not.

Now let's be clear, I'm not showing you my costing sheet so we can squabble over semantics. You might think my hourly rate is $5.00 too high, or it's not fair that I charge retail prices for my fabrics when an actual retailer would purchase them wholesale, or that you don't believe quilters should charge design concept fees because that's the fun part of the process. What the F ever. The point is that I encourage you to take ownership of your creative economies and know that you're worth way more than you think! The first way you can do that is start tracking your own costs, and simply showing the true cost of that quilt to the recipient. Imagine how much more they'll love it when they realise you've just spent thousands of dollars on them. (Unless of course they wanted diamonds instead ... um, awkward). Anyway, feel free to grab my costing sheets below, adjust them as you want, and see how much money your quilt is really worth.

In an effort to provide full disclosure to my readers, I want you to know I didn't charge this full amount. As this quilt was created as a farewell gift, I dropped my labour rate to $25.00 AUD per hour ($19.50 USD), and didn't charge a profit margin. I still showed the recipient this costing sheet though, and it made the quilt feel all the more special and luxurious. Everyone loves a discount! Let me end by saying I'm not telling you what to charge for the amazing things you make, but if you asked, I'd probably tell you that you're not charging enough.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Snatch My Weave Cushion

Earlier this week I showed you my Mood Ring Meltdown, and now I bring you its companion lover, Snatch My Weave. You might remember I had originally called this block Intersections. Well, I pretty soon realised that the fabulous Film in the Fridge has a block of the same name, and that just wouldn't do. So while I was off shaking my martinis, this block had a name makeover, and is now calling itself Weave Snatchin'! You never know what fabrics you may need to snatch and throw into your weave, so it's best to have your big stash wide open and ready! Mmmmkay!

As I said, there were some martinis involved, so this Snatch My Weave cushion is made up of four Weave Snatchin' blocks to make it 24" x 24". It's the flirtatious cougar to the more prim Mood Ring Meltdown. At that size, it is perfect for a floor cushion, or to throw on the balcony lounge chairs. It's again backed with Essex Yarn Dyed in blue which just seems to get softer with every rub. And you know ladies, if that is happening in your relationship(s), you need a younger man! Ow!

Now let's talk about this zipper for a hot minute. I don't even know how to explain, and I'm sure there's some divine tutorial out there already, but it came out pretty close to what I saw in my big ole brain. It's not perfect by any means (flying by the seat of my hot pants, ya know) but the Aurifil 2620 Stainless Steel blends right in with that linen. Basically what I did is sew two pieces of linen together with a half inch-ish seam, iron it open, nest the zipper face down, sew the zipper in, then from the other side partially rip out the original seam holding the pieces of linen together. Clear as a Screwdriver on a Sunday?

The other new thing to me with this Snatch My Weave cushion is my first serious attempt at free motion quilting. Oh, there were some headaches, trust you me, but I came out the other side footloose and fancy free. I mean seriously, you think a little fabric and thread was going to stop me from getting my werk on? I can spot all thirty-seven mistakes in my FMQ, but for a first timer, I'm not sheddin' one ounce of complaint. Thankfully, I had a barrage of coordinating threads that help blend in those intentional creative misdirections! *wink*wink*

This one was certainly an adventure, but boy man woman child did I learn a lot from it! Now I can't wait to try it in some printed fabrics to see what really happens when you need to go Weave Snatchin' in someone else's stash!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Mood Ring Meltdown

One of the reasons I didn't have anything to show yesterday for Sunday Stash #126 is because I spent my weekly fabric and notions budget on cushion inserts for this (and another) cushion I recently completed. I had some extra Mood Ring blocks left over from my finished quilt, and I had a cushion to make for some good friends. So I thought, why not kill two divas with one diamond, and here we have it, Mood Ring Meltdown!

I wanted to try out a few new things with this small project, the first of which was matchstick quilting. I had read that drag (of the fabric variety) can be a nightmare with matchstick quilting, but I thought I'd just see what happens regardless. It, of course, happened, (apparently I'm unable to defy the laws of the quilting universe yet), but I just went with it.

I like how it changed these really rigid blocks into more fluid forms. For the process minded out there, I used Aurifil 2620 Stainless Steel to first do quarter inch lines. I sewed these in alternating directions with no real intent, just when I wanted the fabric to drag the other way. I then came back in between these lines with random purple, yellow, and teal threads wherever it felt right.

After the first few grey lines I thought I had ruined my cushion cover, but after persevering, I'm all "hot dayum, that looks pretty nice." For the surrounds and backing, I used Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in blue (the savvy reader might guess where it came from), and a zipper method that was also new to me. I'll try to speak on that one a bit later when I show you the next cushion.

I'll definitely be using all of these new methods more in the future, and I can already say that this Mood Ring Meltdown was welcomed into its new home with great appreciation!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sunday Stash #126 - How Dull Am I?

Egads! Life totally got in the way this week, y'all, and I don't have a single thing to show for Sunday Stash, or even some pretty pictures of fabric. How dull am I?! Please forgive me and I'll try to do better things for the economy next week! Kisses!