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!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Freedom From Physiology


The opening of the Dorothy Collard Challenge Exhibition happened at Lake House Arts Centre in Takapuna, Auckland on Tuesday - April 29th.  I made it down for the official opening and prize giving.  No, I didn't win a prize - but I sold my quilt, 'Freedom from Physiology' so I'm one happy lady!

 Seeing as I probably won't ever see it again, I thought I'd share the process of making it.  The theme was 'The Space Between' and I contemplated lots of ideas before I decided to look at the spaces between the barbules of feathers.

There was a size requirement (20 inches by 30 inches portrait) so I cut my white fabric about four inches bigger both ways than needed so I'd have wiggle room and cropping choice later.  I folded up my fabric and tea dyed it by placing it in a strong tea solution, letting it soak, then letting it dry, ironing it and then washing it out.

I taped it down to stop it shifting and wrote general information about birds, feathers and flight loosely across the fabric in an archival fabric marker.  Then heat set it again.

I took a sketch of a feather I had made a couple of years earlier and altered it slightly then enlarged it to fit the size of my piece.  I numbered my segments then traced them onto paper-backed fusible webbing.  

Once I had auditioned and chosen my fabrics, I 'windowed' the fusible web cutouts, ironed them the wrong side of the fabrics and cut them out.  I formed up the feather shape on my non-stick iron sheet first before placing them on my background fabric and raw edge appliquéing them down by machine.

This is the step that I missed getting in-process pictures of.  I found the background needed 'more', so I cut out a feather shape from freezer paper and used both the negative and positive image to stencil (using oil paint sticks) the feather onto the background.

I drew little textbook-like sketches of the closeup anatomy of feathers onto used teabags and then adhered these to the background with fabric medium.  You might remember my post on teabag experiments.

And then it sat on my design wall for fricking ages quite a while whilst I hemmed and hawed about the quilting.  It came to me in the end that I wanted to contrast the freedom of flight with the complicated anatomy and physiology that makes it possible.  So I quilted flying bird silhouettes, curves and swoops.

Above is a terrible shot of the cropping process.  I take multiple photos of the cropping choices I have to help me decide where to cut.

And then I square up and slice.  DO NOT slip with your rotary cutter at this point!

I used coloured pencils to shade the birds to give them a little more substance and to link them back to the colours of the feather.

A photo of the back (because I know there are plenty of back fanatics out there - I'm one of you!).

And a picture of the front.  I finished it with a facing with non-mitred corners using Susan Brubaker-Knapp's tutorial

My Artist's statement was: The spaces between the barbules of a feather give the strength, lightness and flexibility necessary for flight.  Yet the bird knows none of this, does not care about it's anatomy, just leaps with faith...and soars.


  1. WOW!!!! You are so clever! What a wonderful piece & you sold it, so it is not just you & me that think it's neat!
    I like your statement ends.....'Yet the bird knows none of this, does not care about it's anatomy, just leaps with faith.......and soars'..................thought provoking stuff.
    P.S you look really nice, happy!

  2. I love this quilt! The feather is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing it and congrats on selling it. Perhaps another version in slightly different colors or have you got out of your system what you wanted/needed?

  3. This is spectacular! Thank you so much for sharing your process. I love it!

  4. Well done - the quilt is Beautiful and thank you for sharing the process! Congratulations on selling it too!

  5. Fabulous process and sharing post!!! It's a beautiful quilt, and you look lovely standing next to it. Congrats and thanks for sharing.

  6. I really do like this. I think it deserves several prizes!

    I'm loose ending at present - Dear Jane has been turned over to my sis for sashing and quilting. So it is ufo time for some knitting and crochet things while I think about what's next.


  7. Well done! That quilt is amazing, what a lot of careful work, I wouldn't have the patience!

    1. Ah, but you have the patience to bottle hundreds of beautiful and yummy jars of fruit for your family!

  8. Wow!! Fantastic. Congrats on making and selling such a lovely piece. Thank you for sharing the process too. Soooo clever!

  9. Thank you for visiting my blog - your work is so fabulous - I am admiring it very much - and loved to see the process.

  10. Yes it is a lovely quilt. Congratulations on the sale.

  11. Congratulations on selling your piece. There is no better accolade than someone willing to pay to take your quilt home with them. Thanks for describing your process. You make it sound oh so easy, ha, ha :-)

  12. What a stunning art quilt! I love everything about it, from the colors to the creative backgound print you made. It is rich in layers and dimension, which makes it so beautiful. Well done!

  13. Very cool, clever girlie you!

  14. I really love this quilt. The first picture caught my eye, but all the detail you describe makes me appreciate it all the more! One cool technique/idea after the next. Nicely done!

    I'm a new podcast listener, thanks to Sandy from Quilting for the Rest of Us.


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