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!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet, simple cushion

I'm enjoying working on lots of little projects at the moment.  The little purses from my last post were great fun, I've been hand-stitching down some binding on a couple of little bassinet quilts to donate to the maternity unit and then there was today's project, to finish this cushion:

I had some pre-fused blue leaves left over from my big blue and white quilt (top is finished, I just need to tie off some threads from the appliqué) and I had this fawn/stone coloured fabric (closest to this colour) and I needed some new cushions.  So it all just came together and I love it!

The back is a 3 button flap closure made with some really yummy linen/hemp screen printed fabric that I bought when I was in Australia.  I found this lovely little shop called 'I just love that fabric' on the Gold Coast and it was filled with designer decorating fabrics, oil cloths and some beautiful linens and cottons.

I broke out my sewing machine manual and actually made buttonholes for the flap closure and put in these jean buttons.  I don't know why I get hesitant about buttonholes, they are just so easy.

The leaves on the front were appliquéd and quilted at the same time and I quilted a couple of additional leaf patterns either side.

It was simple and easy and it used up scraps to make something beautiful and useful too.  Winner!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Little Printed Purses

I've had a bit of a production line going over the last couple of days, sewing up all my monoprinted fabric into these sassy little zippered purses.  I think I'm in love with every single one!  They sit flat, which I like, because they can then slip into your handbag easily.  But I think the next bunch I do (yes - addicted) might have boxed corners, just for something different.  And maybe some smaller ones?

This batch all measure about 9 and 1/2 inches by 6 and 1/2 inches.  They are all lined with plain white fabric for a crisp, clean look.

The fronts and backs are different, but coordinated (it was lots of fun choosing which goes with what!) and they all have different coloured zippers.

The first question from my husband was, "What are you going to do with all of those?"  Doesn't he know that Christmas is only about eight weeks away?!  Of course I want to keep one for myself.  And then I think I might sell a few either on my Etsy or Felt shop or maybe at the Kerikeri Patchwork and Quilters Club exhibition in January.  Hmmmm, I might have to make some more so I can have a few in all those venues.  Darn, what a chore that'll be ;-)

Do you have a favourite?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Printing Fabric - I went a little overboard...

Yesterday I did a demonstration and then held a mini-workshop at my local quilting club.  It was on fabric stamping, monoprinting and screen printing.  It went really well and I had a few people totally enthralled the results when trying it out themselves.  Fun!

Then today I had the job of emptying out my suitcase and cleaning up and putting away.  Well I got everything shipshape and then I began sorting through my samples.  I found a couple that needed another layer or a stamp or two.  I thought to myself, "I'll just do a couple of prints....."

Two hours and several BBC Documentary podcasts later I finally stopped myself!  It is seriously addictive stuff, people, and I don't know whether to urge you to give it a try or warn you off ever starting.

Here are some of my favourites:

Background is a gelliplate mono print, albatross is screen printed.

The black shapes were screen-printed first and then the colours monoprinted on top. 

Monoprints, stamps and screen-prints.

A 'ghost' monoprint (a second, lighter print from the one paint spread), an albatross screen print and the rings were stamped.
I pre-cut most of these pieces of fabric 9" by 10" with the intention of turning them into little lined, zippered pouches (they're very cute, I'll show you some when I've sewn a few more up).

So if you think you are interested in fabric printing, just go find a youtube tutorial and jump in and have a go!  Of course, if you are in New Zealand, I could always come and run a workshop in your area - just email me!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tall Ships

The tall ships are here.  I just happened to be in town this morning and I captured this quick shot with my iPad from the Opua wharf.  They are so magnificent.  Tomorrow two of them will be tied up at the wharf and are letting the public on for tours.  I'm know I'll be going!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Feeling a wee bit famous

I got my issue of the New Zealand Quilter magazine (a pretty good issue this quarter too!).

And I was pretty excited to see my quilt, 'Tui at Dawn' featured on page 20!  I knew it was going to be in there as I had to send my quilt to them to be photographed, but I didn't think it was going to be a nice big picture like it is.  Shirley Dixon writes a great article about quilts with a distinct NZ flavour and I guess mine fits right in.

Now who thinks my photos are crooked?  They're not, it's just an optical illusion created by having the subject of both photographs tilted at the same article.  If I was a perfectionist I'd go retake them to get them either at alternate angles or straighten them right up.  I'm not a perfectionist, so you get to marvel at tricks of vision and perception!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Today was the last day of school holidays.  Big sigh of relief from me!  Yesterday we thought we'd make the most of our last day with visiting cousins and get out and about.

My hubby picked us up from Parekura Bay in his boat and took us for a short trip to Urupukapuka Island.  Looks really picturesque, huh?  Well you could lean at about a 45 degree angle and not fall over...howling gale!

We took a walk to a slightly more sheltered beach where I practiced my photography.  These are variable oyster catchers.

The endangered dotterel was tricky, they don't stand still for long.  He was flipping seaweed over to look for critters.

Aren't these colours intense?  And not a photoshop in sight I promise!  See the shags?  (Comorants, for those non-Kiwis).

Here they are closer.

And closer still.

They were having trouble drying their wings because the wind gusts would buffet them too much.

And just a couple of shots of a couple of my beautiful nieces.  They sometimes sit still longer than a dotterel...

It was a beautiful day despite the wind.  And then we finished it off with scallops for dinner.  Yum!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gelli Plate Printing with Kids

This afternoon I wanted to bang my children's heads together.  Instead, I pulled out my new-ish Gelli Plate and did some monoprinting on paper with them.  After a while we got pretty creative - if I do say so myself...


Chinese gate for my son's valley of bones (don't ask).

Skull for the same thing.

I think this is one of my favourites.

Clean up involved a small glass of Lemocello for me, a pastry brush that is now relegated to my studio instead of the kitchen,

and two kiwifruit ice blocks for them.  School holidays are almost over, phew.

Yesterday, Suz from 'all the good ones are taken' and Mathea, a new quilting friend, came over with their kids in tow.  We talked quilts and the kids played and played and played.  Big sticks were involved, dirt featured too (so much that I saw them running around with swimming goggles on) and play wrestling on the trampoline.  My boy had so much fun and today is sporting a neat wee black eye, must do it again next holidays!

And just because they are not all bad, here are some cute things my kids have said lately:

Son asked, "When will pussy cat stop mulching?"  That would be moulting!

And my girl asked,"Where is the fly stabber?  I need to get that fly!"  Hmmm, fly swatter perhaps?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Oldest Work-In-Progress

I think this is my oldest WIP, but I'm not about to scrummage around in my cupboards to prove it one way or another.  I know it is at least four and a half years old because I have pictures of it laid out on the floor of my old perhaps five or six years?  Ok, I just went and checked the date on those photos.....2003.  Hmmm, needs to get finished.

It's big.  So the design floor was brought into use.  There is actually not much to do.  I have to finish buttonhole stitching (machine) some of those leaves in the border, then attach the border to finish the little bits of bell flower applique in the corners.

And I want to rework the bird's wing.  This central design is from one of Material Obsession's books.  I can't remember which one - it was from the library.  But my husband said it looks like a chicken drumstick, and now that's ALL I see!  Blast him!

So I wonder how old those little yellow bits of post-it note are?  I've had to safety pin them on because they've lost their sticky, but they've marked the corners well, I would have been in a pickle with which corner was which if I didn't have them.  

My goal is to have this top finished by the end of the week.  Then it can move into the waiting-to-be-quilted pile.  Shall we look at what's in that pile?  No, that could be overwhelming....!

And thank you for your thoughts on my last post.  I think I just need more doing and less thinking ;)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Leaf Printing turns into Navel Gazing

When I get back from some time away, be it with the family or without, I always feel a bit overwhelmed and chaotic.  I know it's coming because it's happened so many times, but knowing it's coming doesn't stop it from happening.

I've got a few strategies now that I know help.  First up I write a list of all the things I have to do and work at crossing it off rather than wandering round aimlessly.  Second, I get the laundry under control.  It must be my thing - an overflowing laundry basket does my head in.  Third, I have a clutter purge.  There is a huge bag of clothes, toys and dress-ups in my car boot waiting to go to the Op Shop and it feels soooo good!  And then lastly, but probably most importantly, I do something quilty or creative.

I hadn't realised that this last one was important to me until I sat down with my daughter the other day and did some leaf printing on fabric.  We had been home for a few days by then but I was still feeling antsy.  After doing just that small activity, it was like heaving a big sigh of relief.

What I'm wondering now is when and why has creating art quilts become so important to me?  Almost four and a half years ago I started this blog, all excited because we were moving into a shed on our block of land.  I was to have animals, space to garden, room to move.  And we moved and I had all I wanted.  Well now.... I've got my animals but we've seriously down-shifted in the amount,  I barely step inside the vegetable garden anymore and cooking and baking...well they get done, but maybe with half the care and attention that they used to get!

When we moved here I was already a quilter and I dabbled around with creating art quilts but my ten year plan only had 'have enough free time to quilt' on it.  It had a lot more goals about gardens and orchards than quilting.  Now my ten year plan includes goals like 'exhibit internationally', 'become a successful quilting tutor'.  How did that happen?  How did I morph into that?  Do people really change that much, or did I actually not know what I wanted?  I wonder about my blog followers who were with me because I was all about growing and chooks and sustainability.  Do they wonder who am I now?

Sometimes I wonder if I've just finally found my perfect outlet for my creativity.  I believe everyone is creative but in different ways.  Some people show it in their gardens, or in their interior decor, or their creative business skills, or the way they nurture and grow their families.  And some people just haven't found what it is for them yet.  Could I even be so cliche as to say the words 'it's my calling'?!

Yesterday I spent a lot of it working on my Swallow quilt.  And it felt so good.  But I also felt guilty because it was a lovely day and I should have been working in the garden.  A friend turned up and was busily working on a smokehouse that he's building for my husband and I felt that he would be wondering why I wasn't making the most of the sunshine or maybe thinking I was a bit lazy.  So maybe what's going on in my head is all about whether being a quilter and artist is valid?

Hmm, this is all getting a bit deep and meaningful and is a bit too much to ponder right now, and the chickens need feeding, and the ducks need letting out, and the cows need moving.....!  If anyone has any insightful thoughts, I'd love to read them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Across the Ditch

Hmm, what to write about first?  Well, I guess I better explain where I've been for the last few weeks.  My Dad turned 70 this year and we decided it was time for a family get together.  We haven't all been together in the one place for about six years!  All my immediate family live in Australia now - I have to break out the passport to go visit my brothers and sisters :(  So our little family crossed the ditch (that's what we fondly call the Tasman Sea) and spent ten days on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts of Australia.

The kids were extremely excited to be having a plane ride - they can't remember their last one.  And the first plane we ride on is a little one from Kerikeri to Auckland, just one seat each side of the aisle, which makes is a bit more exciting.

We had to spend a day in Auckland due to a passport issue.  (Warning: check your passport expiry dates CAREFULLY!  It is not good for stress levels to find out you have an expired passport the day before you fly.)  But we made the most of it with a trip to the museum and a trip up the Skytower.

Dad's party was a great success.  The log cabin quilt I've been working on was presented to him.  My eldest sister made half the blocks and on the back are blocks from members of the family with names, handprints and pictures.  He loved it!

This is my Dad, my step-mum and all my immediate siblings.  I don't know how my half-brother managed to get out of this photo, and my step-sister was the one taking the photo.  Of course there were plenty of little children - all cousins - running around too.

We had a trip to Australia Zoo - the home of the late Steve Irwin.  Not cheap, but really worth it for the kids.  Lots of animal experiences.

And a great show where a 4-metre long croc named Graham (not sure if this is a great name for a crocodile) tries to eat his keepers.

Later in the week we borrowed my parent's camping gear and headed to Great Sandy National Park with two of my sisters and their families.  I got to see a snake in the wild.  I think it's a carpet python - not poisonous.  It was hanging out in a tree where we were waiting for the ferry at Tewantin.

Camping at Great Sandy National Park is only accessible by 4WD because the beach is the highway - a little bit different!

We camped and swam and ate and saw a whale and lots of birds - and cleaned out about 2 tonnes of sand from our belongings when we got back.  So much fun.

And there was the obligatory theme park visit.  But I had cut a deal with Hubby!  I took the kids to the zoo while he went swag (a kind of iconic Australian camping bed and tent all rolled into one) shopping, and he took them to Dreamworld while I went fabric shopping.  I reckon I got the better deal!

Phew!  That's enough photos for one day.  I'll show you the few fabric goodies I picked up another day.  We visited my husbands cousins as well so we really filled up on family on this trip.  Now we are getting back to reality.  It's school holidays for the next two weeks so it's an easy transition really.  It's nice to be home, just a little bit cooler!