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!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Natalie Murdoch from Wholly Quilts - Podcast Interview

Natalie Murdoch from Wholly Quilts graciously took time to speak to me when we were both visiting The Great NZ Quilt Show.

Natalie is a quilter, teacher, gardener, cook and many other things besides.  She runs quilt retreats from her home, teaches quilting, writes fun and informative newsletters and is also an Aotearoa Quilters committee member.

Natalie and I talk about the therapeutic value of quilting, about teaching and running retreats, a wonderful fabric camp Natalie attended in the US, Natalie's own quilts, entering quilt shows and much, much more.

Natalie's quilt at The Great NZ Quilt Show 'Scare de Crows'. 

Natalie's other quilt in the show, a completely different style, 'Kaka Beak Revival' (sorry about the funny lighting, the background is actually one colour).

Natalie runs wonderful retreats and if you are after a relaxing, fun weekend, with wonderful cooking and great company, consider booking a retreat with Wholly Quilt Retreats

The fabric camp Natalie and I talk about was run by Common Threads Quilting and the facilitator was Terry Clothier Thompson.

I had fun talking to Natalie - she let it slip after our interview that she was a journalist at one point - so glad she didn't make me nervous by telling me that before!  I hope you enjoy our chat too.  And if you do, please share the podcast with a friend, or log onto iTunes and leave me a review.  Thanks heaps!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Issued: Quilt Challenge!

 Aotearoa Quilters have issued two mini quilt challenges and I'm forming a quilt challenge email group within my quilt club to help us get motivated and provide support to each other.  I thought I'd extend the invitation out to any of you readers who also want to join in the fun.

This is my blue and orange 12 X 12 challenge entry for our exhibition earlier this year.  It was fun to make!

So here are the details: 

Their website is where you can find more info.  At the moment they don't seem to have much up about these challenges, but I'm guessing they are recovering from the great nz quilt show and they'll get back into gear soon.

This is the info I've had in my newsletter so far:

Yellow 12 x 12 The colour challenge this year is YELLOW - think ranges from deep golds through to pale lemon. Do you think sunflowers and daffodils, autumn trees, egg yolks and lemons, sunshine and bees? Size 12x12 inches.

The deadline for entries is September 1, 2016

Floral 18 x 8. We are excited to be invited to be part of the Orchid and Flower Show in Auckland, September 22-25 this year. We will be exhibiting both the Yellow 12x12 challenge and the new 18x8 inches Floral challenge.  This can be interpreted any way you like from floral fabrics to traditional applique through to a modern or art interpretation. Think flowers! There is plenty of inspiration available on their website 

Size is 45x20cm (portrait). All are for sale at $125. The entry deadline is September 1, 2016.

So our deadline is Sep 1st.  That gives us about 13 weeks, heaps of time!

The rules for the last colour challenge (green) said it was open to members and non-members. $15 entry fee for members, $25 non-members.  6cm deep hanging sleeve ending 1/2 inch from edges of quilt and hook side of Velcro attached to hanging sleeve. All quilts for sale $125, you get $100 of that if sold.  I shouldn't imagine anything is significantly different from these rules.  (Membership fee for Aotearoa Quilters is $40 per annum for NZ's just for your info.)

I'm going to endeavour to send out weekly or fortnightly emails with my progress, suggestions and questions to see how you are all going.  And if the group is happy to share emails, we can get feedback and ask questions of the group as a whole - a little community of challengees!  

So if you want to join in, drop me an email theslightlymadquiltlady (at) and we'll get going.

Looking forward to the challenge!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to bind a funny angled quilt.

This is a lozenge shaped baby quilt that I made for a friend.  When all the triangles were laid out on the floor I liked the look of it so much that I didn't want to square it up.  So it can be a funky playmate, or folded back for a bed quilt, a snuggly quilt for the car - anything really, but it meant that when it came to bind it I was dealing with non-right angled corners (120 degrees to be precise).

But it's pretty easy really to make nice neat mitred corners on these angles, just follow similar steps as to usual and you'll be done.

Sew the folded binding strip to the front of the quilt with a quarter inch seam using your walking foot just as you would for a square quilt.

Before you get to the first corner, put a pin in parallel and 1/4 inch away from the next side of the quilt.

Sew up to the pin and then take a couple of back stitches.  Take the pin out and take the quilt out from under the needle.

Fold back the binding strip away from the quilt so the raw edges of the binding strip are 180 degrees from the raw edges of the next side of the quilt.

Fold the binding strip back down so the raw edges of the quilt and the binding strip are aligned.  You will have this neat little tuck that you can see in the picture above (pin it if you need to).

Start sewing right from the edge of the quilt, taking a couple of back stitches across the tuck.  Continue sewing along until you get to the next corner and repeat the steps above.  Join the ends of your binding strips as you usually would.

When you fold your binding strip over to the back of the quilt, you will get a neat mitre in your corner on the front of your quilt.

And a neat mitre in the corner on the back of your quilt.  Pin (or clip using Clover wonder clips - I love them for binding) and hand sew your binding down.

Easy peasy!  So don't be scared of using different angles in your quilts or table runners.  The mitre works out just the same.

The bright orange backing is a built-in safety feature.  You never know when you'll need a high-vis blanket for signalling helicopters...

35" wide and 54" long point to point.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Great NZ Quilt Show 2016

What a weekend!

I arrived in Rotorua at the Great NZ Quilt Show just as it was opening and there was a queue to get in.  That's a really good sign that all the hard work of the organisers is going to pay off.

During the two days I was there, I managed to record interviews with several interesting people.  This first podcast is a mash together of the small soundbites I got with:

Marion Manson - quilter, artist and natural dyer, Marion was one of the exhibition judges.  Unfortunately I didn't get to speak with Norma Slabbert, the other judge, as she wasn't feeling great and was busy organising her presentation later that day.

Catherine MacDonald - Aotearoa Quilters president and owner of Mallee Textiles (Catherine makes drool worthy fabrics, some of which may have found their way home with me).

Valda Sutton - committee member of Aotearoa Quilters and exhibition coordinator extraordinaire.

Here are a few of the quilts we talk about on the podcast:

'Fabulous Feathers' by Carol Newsham, which Marion Manson talks about as her judges choice award (this photo was actually taken at the Auckland Festival of Quilts as I missed getting a photo of it at Rotorua).

'Gone' by Jeanette Gillies, winner of the Flight Challenge, which is also discussed by Marion.

'Petone Hospital Blanket' by Katherine Morrison, winner of Best in Show at the Wellington Symposium 2009.  Valda and I talk about this as a controversial winner.

'My Turkish Plate' by Valda Sutton, winner of Best in Show at the Palmerston North Symposium 2013.  This quilt is also mentioned in Valda's interview.

'Starnet' by Marge Hurst, winner of the very first Best in Show at Symposium Upper Hutt 1993.  Discussed in Valda's interview.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and stay tuned as I have another couple that I'm editing at the moment.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Love Letter to Quilters

Dear Quilters,

You rock.

I spent last weekend immersed in quilts, fabric and sewing machines; surrounded by quilters, fabricholics, merchants and quilt admirers and every interaction I had was a pleasant one.

Everyone smiled at me, everyone had nice things to say, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were no elbows at the merchant stalls, there were no overheard nasty comments about the quilts.

I had such a great time and it was all due to you amazing quilters.  What awesome people you are!

To the committee of Aotearoa Quilters who organised the show - thank you.  To the volunteers who put in hundreds of hours of their own time - thank you.  To the quilters who made the quilts for me to admire - thank you.  To the merchants who sponsored the prizes and supported the show - thank you.  To the people who visited the show - thank you.

Having such an awesome time brings home to me how influential personal interactions are on my experience.  A smile and a nod can really make someones day.  An invitation to share lunch or dinner is a wonderful friendly overture.  Even a quick conversation over the fat quarter selection may make someone feel warm inside.

Quilters, never forget what power you have!

I'm so glad I'm part of this community of passionate artists and craftspeople.  You quilters make beautiful things, warm things, lovely and loving things and you also share that passion with others.  You are generous of spirit; sharing your knowledge, your time and occasionally your precious fabric with others.

Thank you for being the cool people that you are.

With love,


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Let's have a catch up.

I don't know why I always think I'll have so much more time when school holidays are over.  It's Wednesday, the first week back after a two week break, and I haven't accomplished much off my 'when school holidays are over' list.  One of those things was to finally write a blog post, so I guess I'm achieving something!

Diving back into writing after a bit of a break is always tricky too.  Do I start chronologically from a few weeks ago?  Do I start from today?  Are the blog posts I had planned even relevant now?

Today's strategy is going to be a quick recap of the last couple of weeks to bring you (and me) up to speed on what I've been doing, and then regular transmission will resume shortly...

My kids spent some time with their cousins during the school hols, one of whom turned 13....and is mostly still lovely with shades of teenage moods creeping in.  At one stage I had five kids staying the night on the boat, which actually wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds.  I offered to pay them the princely sum of $3 each in return for making the kids' cabins and play room spotless.  Worth every cent!

Even though it's Autumn, there is the occasional stunner of a day.  Warm enough still to go for an afternoon swim.  You can see what looks like evening sun in the picture above - but it's only about 3pm.  We ate fish and chips after that.

Living in the area that we do, and living on a boat, it kinda follows that my kids will learn to sail.  They've done a couple of learn to sail courses and there is a professional sailing coach who has moved into the area so we are making the most of it.  

They spent the first week of the holidays at sailing camp - this means 9am to 3pm each day!  Yay for Mummy and yay for the kids because they had a blast.  Now they are both really confident little sailors.  They toodled off in the neighbours sailing dinghy the other afternoon all on their lonesomes without an ounce of worry.  I had a proud Mummy moment.

As for me, I've been trying to get a few smaller projects finished.  I made a scrap placemat for my boy to match one I made for my girl a little while ago.  Like the skull and crossbones quilting?

I've been pressing seams open (shock horror!) because I'm making a triangle quilt for a gift.  They will be six inch equilateral triangles and it was a lot easier to construct than I thought.  I didn't starch the bias edges and I'm pleased that I had hardly any stretching at all.  I'll be able to show the finished quilt very soon.

And I've been doing lots and lots of dyeing.  These are threads laid out to dry after rinsing.  

I've purchased a swift (hank holder) and ball winder and was given a measuring skein winder so I've been winding threads like crazy and having a lovely time playing in the dye pots.  More on that soon.

Oh, and I got a haircut.  Not sure how I feel about that.  I was sick of the long hairs everywhere and I guess it'll grow back!  Lots less shampoo use though.

So, that's news for now.  This weekend I'm off to The Great NZ Quilt Show in Rotorua.  Can't wait!  I'm taking my voice recorder and I have at least one interesting interview lined up for the podcast so watch this space.