My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Here's a sequence of photographs showing what happened to one of my white fat quarters.  You can see the black lines drawn with a fabric marker in a rough grid pattern underneath.  Then I scraped on red fabric paint with a tiling tool.

I diluted some of the red paint with water and used a foam brush in another grid pattern.  I put it out to dry with bits and pieces on to try and get a sun print but that didn't work.  No matter.

A week or so later, my daughter was painting with acrylics and squeezed out way too much.  So I mixed her colours up with some textile medium, ironed down some leftover freezer paper shapes I had and rolled (using a brayer) the paint over the shapes.  

That technique wasn't so successful.  The brayer would catch the edge of the freezer paper and roll it up around itself and so I couldn't go back to cover the shape entirely.  

But I'm still really happy with it.  I like the ghostly image.  The not-quite-there glimpse, which is similar to the flash of bird you often see in real life.  Just an impression as it flits by.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Working Studio

School holidays are in full swing and yesterday and today were grey and rainy, so I did what I'd been thinking about for ages - rearranged my studio.  It's a good time to get things like that done.  The kids play and watch DVD's and I can take breaks to feed them and mediate or even read stories.  But I still get a lot of time because I don't have to interrupt to go pick them up from school or do mother help or any of those exciting things.  Anyway, here are some before and after pics.

This little nook used to be the kids play area.  I thought it was too small to use for me and it got even smaller when I jammed a couch in there.  You can see the freezer in the picture above that I had at a right angle out into the room .  I used it as a cutting table and had my machine table and trestle table backed up to it.  I decided that it really cut the room in half and wasn't nearly as user friendly as I thought it would be.  Best laid plans and all of that.

So I turned the freezer back against the wall (you can see my big cutting mat on top, I've used 3M command picture hanging strips to attach it to the top of the freezer so I can open the lid without taking the mat off).  I put my trestle table and sew-ezi machine table in an L shape in the nook and now I look out the window when I sew. 

Here's a view right into the nook (bit of a mess, I'm still slowing sorting it out).  I fitted a couple of bookshelves in beside me and these carry all my tools and pins etc that I use frequently while I'm at the machine.  You can see my design wall to the right above my ironing board.

See?  Here's the long view.  I fit nicely into the nook and the room seems so much larger now that the freezer and my trestle table aren't cutting it in half.  And look at all that floor space for laying out quilts!

Here's what it used to look like from the front door (which is next to the nook).  My trestle table with all it's junk underneath it was the central feature.

And here's the same view now.  I've shifted the couch against the wall into the space vacated by one of the bookshelves.  There's still a few baskets of toys that need to be sorted through and downsized (a constant job).  Even better, there's my eight year old boy who used to really struggle with reading.  Over the last school term, his reading age has taken leaps and bounds and is now more than a year ahead of his own age!  So relieved!  Now he's turning into a book worm.  He's read three whole chapter books over the last two days and is pestering me to go to the library to get more of his favourite - the BeastQuest series by Adam Blade.

I cleaned up a little more and took a longer view.  Looks good, huh?

And now the next sorting job on my radar.  Should I attempt it?

Friday, December 14, 2012

No more anon!

I'm sick of deleting spam, some of it funny, some of it not so funny.  And where do these people learn English?!  So I'm not allowing anonymous comments any more, and I don't think it should be a problem - I did a quick audit and all my legitimate comments come from named people.  I think I've clicked the right button but if anyone has terrible trouble commenting, can you email me?  My address is under my profile.  Cheers!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Double Dragons

I received a request from a buyer on Etsy for patterns for the other elements of my Dragon Quilt.  I've been planning to write these up for ages, but planning isn't doing!  So this morning I set to and I've got my Double Dragon Silhouette appliqué pattern up and ready to go on both Etsy and Felt.

It's always surprising how long something like that takes.  It's pretty simple, but I need to check and recheck (and unblock the jammed printer) before I'm satisfied.  Next I need to work on getting patterns for the sword, the sun and the moon written up.  I'm dreading the castle - that was horribly complicated when I did it myself and it'll take me a while to try and simplify the process, but I'll get there.

Other things occupying brain space at the moment is how to catch the bunny that I've spotted nibbling on my lettuces, or how to find the hole in the garden fence where it must be getting through.  And what classes to take at the Taupo Symposium in July next year.  The class booklet arrived about a week ago and they all look very enticing!

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the year for my kids.  Eight weeks of summer holidays is looming!  Hopefully we'll fit in some relaxation, some swimming, some camping, a few barbecues,  good food and maybe a few glasses of cold white wine (must try and plant a grape vine next winter).  So I'll apologise in advance if transmission is patchy round here and I wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year's.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rust dyeing 2

I thought I'd show you the results of a second round of rust dyeing.  I re-soaked and re-wrapped my two fat quarters round a big 'ol rusty piece of scrap and this time I was better pleased with the results, a little less 'nasty rag' and a little more 'rust-dyed fabric':

So then I thought I'd try my next experiment with one of the pieces.  I read on dip and stain that tannins will change your rust marks to black.  Tannins got me thinking about tea and so whilst I was having my morning brew, I pleated and folded and layered with round tea bags, poured on some boiling water and there you have it:

I have to say, I was much more impressed with the result of this than with just the rust.  And so easy to do.

I said I'd show you my next two base pieces.  And that's them above.  White fat quarter(ish) size and all I've done so far is draw straggly lines on one and write illegibly on the other with a fabric marker.  But it's the layering of different effects that counts in surface design, so this is just the first element to provide texture and interest.  

I'm having fun with this, it's neat to discover how much you can do really simply at home in five minute stretches.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rust dyeing for distraction

At the moment (well, in the few moments I have squeezed around all the other things that seem to happen at this time of year) I'm trying out some surface design techniques to make some samples for a surface design round robin that I'm planning to run next year.

So when the kids came to me with a fight disagreement, I employed my favourite parenting trick - distraction.

"Muuuuum, she broke my spaceship!"
"But Muuuuuuum, he wouldn't give me back my battle droid!"
"Really?  Oh dear.  Well, how about you come outside with me and wrap vinegary fabric around this big rusty metal thing?"

So they did.  Then I wrapped plastic bags around the wet fabric to keep it wetter for longer and took a cheesy photo of the kids.  It took about five minutes and, what do you know, the fight was forgotten.

Two days later, this is what we had.  Nobody was particularly impressed.  I think it looks like they are rags I've used to wipe up something nasty!  So I soaked them and wrapped the whole thing up again.

But it is only the first layer of surface design after all.  I'm aiming to do another four layers/techniques so I'm sure it'll get better.  I have two other pieces of cloth which I'm twiddling around with too, guess I might have to show them to you tomorrow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wild Food Cook Off

Last weekend (nothing wrong with a time delay), we attended the annual Wild Food Cook Off.  It's the third time it's been held amongst a group of our extended friends and it's great light-hearted rivalry and lots of fun.  We have three judges who allocate points on taste, presentation, effort (hunting and gathering), expertise/skill, and originality.   

Rules:  Endangered animals not allowed, you lose points for cooking your neighbours pet or spilling the judges drinks, you're disqualified if you give anyone food poisoning..... ;)

We had roast wild pork with taro.

Possum stew.

Now this may look like seaweed, but it's actually woodsear fungi with sweet chilli.

Wild peacock - well they assured us it was wild!

These won second place.  Seafood skewers - scallop, paua, mussel, crayfish......mmmmmm!

Nasturtium leaves wrapped around a creamy filling I think was cream cheese and salmon.

You can read what this one was and it was quite yummy too.

Creamy Lemon Balm Pudding - sorry, it was getting dark by then!

I decided not to enter this year, but I encouraged the kids to enter instead, just to get them involved and interested.  We went for a foraging theme rather than a hunting one (considering they are 8 and 5) and so they foraged lemon balm from my garden (it was pretty wild - they had to avoid the stinging nettle I'd planted next to it and they also climbed their Grandmother's lime tree (wildness factor: mild, there were a few scratchy twigs).

Then they helped make Lemon Balm Cookies, Creamy Lemon Balm Pudding and LemonBalm Limeade.  I was really proud of how hard they worked and then they were great with the judges too, answering questions and mostly remembering how they made things.  

And they won first-equal in the hurriedly created junior category....there were only two entries, but the judges were so impressed to see kids entering that they wanted to give them some acknowledgement!  Both kids were ecstatic!

Next year I'm thinking they could get even with the nettles and make nettle soup.