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!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Life and work

My 'real' job, the one that pays a consistent income, is midwifery.  I work a shift or two per week at the local rural hospital in the maternity ward and then sometimes I work as a rural locum, covering the community midwives.  That's what I'm doing at the moment.  And boy, can it kick my butt.

I'm in a very privileged position to not have to work much usually.  My husband often has to go away at short notice, or work long hours for his business, so we need me to be available to look after the kids.  I know not everyone has that luxury and must organise childcare as well as their working lives. I know I'm privileged, but I really know it when I work locum.

I've been involved in three helicopter transfers of sick babies in the last couple of weeks.  Today I need to drive for an hour to visit a bunch of women who live even more rurally than I do.  My children got pulled out of bed at 5.30 am the other day because my husband had to start work early and I was at the hospital with a woman.  It sucks.  But it's exciting and fulfilling and important work too.

I'm trying to remember that.  And I'm trying to catch glimpses of the good life in between the sucky bits.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Donna Ward from Donna's Quilt Studio - Podcast Interview

Donna Ward is one of those 'world-famous in New Zealand' quilters.  Ask any quilter in New Zealand and they are sure to have heard of her or seen one of her quilts.

But it turns out she's a normal down-to-earth person just like you and me, and we had a great conversation about her journey into quilting, then teaching and then owning a quilt shop and teaching studio that she manages with her daughter, Ashleigh Ward.

These are the kinds of quilts that first made me aware of who Donna was.  Big, bold, Pacifica inspired quilts with exquisite machine quilting:

'Pacific Garden' (pattern available here)

Donna's award winning quilt 'Pacific Spice'

Lately, I've come across Donna on Instagram.  Her handle is @donna8b and she is surprisingly doing a lot of handwork with English paper piecing using modern fabrics.  This may have something to do with being laid up after major leg surgery!  There is also a lot of mini-swaps going on, some foundation piecing and plenty of yummy colours and patterns to look at.

Donna's Instagram feed.  She has since blinged her cast up by modpodging Tula Pink fabric all over it!

Donna and I discuss whether this is a sea-change in style for her or whether there are still some batik, pacific inspired quilts yet to come.  We talk about how quilt shop owners need to stay relevant and up to date and how video tutorials and social media are helping Donna and Ashleigh make connections with their customers. 

Watch Donna's tutorials here.

There is lots more good stuff in the interview so have a listen, then drop by Donna's Quilt Studio and say hi.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cropping - what bits to leave off your quilt

I've been making small improv quilt compositions.  They started as colour studies, a follow-on exercise from this blog post here.

I gave myself rules: one a day, improvisational, don't get hung up on it, only allowed to change one colour per day, 4 1/2 inch finished, straight line quilting.

It's been a real eye opener for me regarding what my preferred colours are, what works with improv quilting and how the proportions of colour really change the end product.  I got sick of pink so fast...

What has also been very useful is making a quick cropping tool.

I took a sheet of paper (I have a roll of brown butchers paper that never seems to get any smaller and is incredibly useful) and cut a five inch square out of it.  I should have actually cut a 4 1/2 inch square because that's my finished size, but I was worried I'd mark my sides and then cut them without thinking, ending up with 4 inches....

Look how it helps me see possible end compositions:

And here's what I finished with:

Below are three of my most recent; numbers 20, 21, and 22.  I broke my rules and made three in one day with the same colours as I found this colour combination so compelling, and there was something really clicking with my piecing that day.  I felt as if I was really reaching something I had been looking for.

Do you crop?  And how do you feel about cutting off precious bits of quilt?  And do you break your own rules!?