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, April 21, 2013

School holidays are upon us once more.

I used to want to camouflage myself and hide, like this frog I found on the choko vine, but the kids are pretty good these days, they seem to be able to harmoniously play Lego (best toy ever) together for hours - touch wood!

In fact, I've already been able to cross off a few things that were on my holiday to-do list.  The 4 inch wide border is on my Creme Brulee quilt top and it is perfect - just what it needed.  Now it needs backing and basting and quilting...whole 'nother story.

And my resolution to finish two things in my WIP pile before I start another project really seems to be working for me.  I pulled out this little wall hanging I had been making as a sample of my positive/negative applique blocks and finished it off.

I had quilted with a design I liked, but had quilted right over the motifs, which I didn't like.  And I had unpicked most of it too, so all it needed was a little more unpicking and then a machine binding (so quick!) and some little hanging corners.  Another thing out of the WIP's and into the finished pile.

*Edited to add:  Must give credit where credit is due!  I think I saw this first on Raewyn's blog lovetostitch  It needs a nice small dowel, the chunky stick I used is a bit thick and will distort the wallhanging a bit.


I've also spent time in the garden and pulled out the finished tomatoes, planted lettuces and leeks and have been revamping a couple of flower pots.  I've chopped down and stump-swabbed tobacco weed (horrible stuff) and rejoiced in the rain we've finally been getting after one of the worst country-wide summer droughts we've ever seen.

So now I'm off to polish my halo and empty the dishwasher.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tone vs Colour in Quiltmaking

The lovely Tanya from Suburban Jubilee wrote me a question on my last post.  And I thought I'd publish part of my answer here in a post where I could illustrate it with pictures.  Now colour and tone and value are topics that people have written whole books on and I don't suggest that I am an expert, but here are some thoughts.

Dear Ms Lottie, you know how high I hold you in regard and wanted to ask you a question about colour. You know I have been stashing and procrastinating for a long time but I am finally ready to commit. Sew Many Ways is doing a block of the month with extremely clear step by steps and I feel I can DO this. She is using a monochromatic scheme but breaking the combo into distinct light and dark placements. My question is...can I achieve this successfully with multiple colours or should I stick to just the monochromatic scheme. I have been collecting pinks, yellows and greens. I have also quite a bit of brighter green and purple? Perhaps it could work with two contrast colours? I know you can't TELL me what I should do but I do value your vast experience with colour. Much love Tanya from Suburban Jubilee 

Yes, you could do it in multiple colours, you just have to be careful with your lights and darks. I put two fabrics next to each other then stand a ways back and squint at them to see which one is lighter or darker if I'm not sure. For instance in a monochromatic scheme, navy might be your dark and sky blue your light. You could easily replace the sky blue with a butter yellow as this is a light colour, but replacing it with a red might not provide enough contrast with the navy. Put the red and the navy next to each other and squint - is there a distinct difference?

This is a monochromatic scheme (mostly) and it took a lot of squinty eyes to get my blues in the correct order.  Can you see how the dark tone of the red contrasts much more with the light blues than the dark?

You can also line up the fabrics that you like together colourwise and look at them through a tonal viewer - basically a piece of red plastic (red cellophane will do) - and this takes away the colour and just shows the tone.

Different colour, very similar tone.

The red takes away the colour and you can see the tonal difference.

In the end though, colour probably makes the boldest statement. And sometimes you might want a quilt with low contrast. A low contrast scheme can be quite restful, eg pastel blue, green, blue with cream.

All three of these quilts are low in contrast.  The middle one has light tones  and so is probably the most restful.  The red one has deeper tones and so is more vibrant.  On the far left quilt, can you see how the square on the second to bottom row stands out?  It has a much lighter tone to the other fabrics.  Squint your eyes!

I sometimes print out a picture of a quilt that I like in black and white (greyscale) to examine the tonal difference a bit closer.

I've got the tonal difference right in this log cabin block.  One side needs to be distinctly darker than the other so that when I join multiple blocks together I can make a secondary pattern.

If you are making sampler blocks you could choose to make each block monochromatic, so one block green and cream/white, one block yellow and cream/white, one block pink and cream/white and then use your more intense colours for sashings (between blocks) or borders (around the quilt).

These are monochromatic blocks, but made in a variety of fabrics, all with a cream background.  Against the cream background the pattern of each is quite distinct.

These sampler blocks are not monochromatic.  Have a squint at the top left block.  The yellow points fade into the cream background, as do the green flying geese in the bottom right block.  Take a look at the border.  Sage green and lavender are completely different colours but tonally almost the same and blend into each other.  Which in this case I think is fine.

You might also want to consider what the use of your quilt is going to be.  Is it a wall hanging that will be looked at from a distance and so needs to have a clearly defined image?  Or is it a snuggly quilt that will be wrapped around legs and folded on the back of the couch and so just needs to be a beautiful pattern made of soft and lovely fabrics?

Whatever you choose to do, have fun and remember it's the little imperfections that make it homemade and therefore from the heart.


Ms Lottie

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Turquoise and Brown

My plan of working through my UFO or WIP pile is moving forward.  Today my hubby took the kids with him and left me gloriously alone.  And this is the result:  (plus three loads of washing, a little bit of weed pulling, house tidying and some dog walking)

It began life as a project done with the guild.  Suz, from All the good ones are taken, organised it.  Participants gathered eight co-ordinated fat quarters, cut them into different sized shapes and then each month put together blocks from those shapes.  Then came the choice of how to put them all together.

I joined my all together without sashing or background - the result is the centre square bordered by the thin turquoise strip.  It wasn't really big enough to do anything with so it's languished for a couple of years (!) until recently when I put the next borders on.  Today it's a finished flimsy, big enough for a single bed topper or a lap quilt.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I thought it was finished

but the quilt top has decided it's not.  It tells me it wants a border.  And I had one.  In fact, the whole quilt was built around some fabrics I bought, including a striped deep rose pink that I thought would be perfect for the border.  Well, it's not perfect, it's terrible.  It's all wrong.  

Has that happened to you?

And of course, no other fabric in my (rather too extensive) stash is right either.  I actually think it needs a border of the brown/grey that makes up the corner-stones in the sashing - the centre of the faux churn dash block.  Which, of course, I have none left of.  Luckily I'm pretty sure I know where I got it from.

Now here's a question for you:
What do you put in your water when you cook a corned beef?  It seems this is quite a traditional thing.  Preferences passed down from parent to child.  I put in a chopped onion, some whole cloves, a bit of golden syrup and bay leaves.  I'd love to know what your preferred flavours are.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The thrill of starting a new project...

So a while back I said I had to finish two projects before I could start another.  It was an attempt to whittle my WIP pile down a little (so it fitted on shelves at the least!).

Well, I finished my tree of life quilt (now called Life Encircling) and my Tui at Dawn quilt, both for entry into the Taupo Symposium so I can't show them here.  So I did a little happy dance and started pulling fabric.  I think mucking round with fabric combos is better than eating chocolate...

It's going to be a log cabin quilt for a very special someone.  I don't think that someone reads my blog very often, and I'm extra sure they won't know what a barn raising setting, log cabin means so I think I'm safe showing a few snippets.

Meanwhile I tackled another project in my WIP pile.  I think I've made the world's ugliest grocery tote!  But it was sitting in my WIP pile and it was a quick project to finish up and hey, the vegetables and packets of pasta ain't gonna care what their bag looks like.  (Sometimes I think I almost like the fabric combination, then other times I catch a glimpse and have to shield my eyes.)

Then I proceeded to break my own rule and started another four projects - that is, another four tote bags (seeing as they are all tote bags, can I pretend it's just one project?).  I rationalised it because production line assembly is the fastest way to get stuff done and I'd already started one bag, right?  Plus I need to make a couple of belated birthday pressies.

Ah well, I could keep trying to convince myself  or I could go finish them up.....Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Good Morning

It's like a consolation prize.  Yes, you have to get up early.  Yes, the days are getting shorter.  Yes, you have to wear socks in the evenings.  But hey - you get to feast you eyes on the sunrise!

Monday, April 1, 2013

What's on the design wall (floor)?

I'm determined to write a blog post tonight.  It's been awhile.  No excuses.  I got immersed in some novels, which takes my attention away from anything else until they're read (The Green Rider series by Kristin Britain if you're curious).  And I've been doing a locum stint for the past two weeks for a local self-employed midwife (glad it's over and I didn't even have to catch any babies, 24/7 on-call is a major stress).  I've also been working away on my two Taupo Symposium exhibition entries.  They're done and sent off and I know they've received them because my credit card bill shows the entry fee already!  Last, but not least, I was printing up fabric for my handprinted fabric swap: III - all sent off by the deadline and I've received one fat quarter in the mail already - thanks Holly!

Then we've had Easter weekend.  The kids get Good Friday off, right through to the Tuesday (tomorrow).  We've had a visit from the three little girl cousins and there were only a few meltdowns, mostly they are old enough for harmonious interaction.

So this morning I was left at a loose end.  No major projects with deadlines, my two kids and one cousin playing happily.  I rummaged around and came up with my Creme Brulee quilt, and when I laid it out on my design wall floor, I realised I'd forgotten I had all the rows together and I just needed to work on the sashing.  Yay!  

Wild Puss thought he'd add his influence to decision on the final layout.  Why do cats always want to sit on whatever it is you're working on?  And they don't listen to you when you tell them to get off either.  

And then the little *^&%# came charging out from under the table, pounced on the middle of the blocks and skidded them into a mess!

I have the evidence, Cat!  You can't pull that innocent, I-didn't-do-it expression on me!

I thought I'd have the whole top put together today, but unfortunately the little darlings (humans, not cats) demanded some attention and entertainment.  And being their Mother I gave in.

So Happy Easter to you all.