This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting and textile arts, a sprinkle of my family life and some of my thoughts and ponderings. We currently live aboard an old wooden 1945 Navy boat, called MV Cerego, so you'll find me writing about that too. Welcome aboard!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Hey, I made something I can wear!!

I always have good intentions of making clothes.  I have several lengths of fabric stashed away, a stack of patterns, lots of links to inspirational podcasts and bloggers who sew beautiful things for themselves. I just never get to it!  I'd so much rather sew in two dimensions.  I think the other reason is that I just don't know enough about garment sewing and I don't get a great fit the first time so then I give up.

But scarves!  They are kinda three dimensional but mostly sewn in two dimensions.  I can handle that.  And they feel good, are an easy way to add an individual touch to an outfit and they always fit perfectly.

I whipped one up (really, truly, including hand sewing the tiny bit at the end it took me about 20 minutes) the other day out of a soft Stoff knit fabric.  The fabric is very slightly pink and it's got birds on it.  How could it not come home with me?

Do you know what I love most about this photo?  Not that I don't look like a total goober, not that it captures both my wedding present mirror and my first ceramic purchase that I bought 'just because', but also because it shows me next to my kids height marks that we've been marking on the doorway since we moved on board the boat.  My 12 year old son is only about 10 cm shorter than me!

I didn't use a pattern or tutorial because I've sewed a couple now and have it down pat.

To sew an infinity scarf, you get a long narrow length of fabric, fold it wrong sides together lengthwise and sew those long edges together to get a narrow tube.  Then you turn it rights sides out, slip one end back over the tube (right sides facing), until you reach the other end.  Sew the two ends together, leaving a small gap for turning.  Turn it inside out and then slip stitch the opening together.

When you are slipping one end back down over the tube, you can choose to put a twist in it, which is what I did on this scarf.


Here are some tutorials that seem to have good diagrams: (great diagrams, shows the twist off well) (a downloadable PDF but without the twist and made of fat quarters) (very simple, without the twist)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A great interview you should listen to.

Lisa Walton, a guest on my podcast a few weeks ago, took the plunge and has started podcasting herself.  Being administration vice president of SAQA (studio art quilt associates) and a travelling textile teacher, Lisa has access to some very interesting textile art professionals.

Her first interview is with Martha Sielman, executive director of SAQA, textile artist and author.  It was a great interview and well worth listening to if you have any interest in art quilts.

I stole this bio about Martha off the SAQA website (which is well worth a visit, even if you aren't a member, there are lots of resources available):

Martha Sielman has been Executive Director of Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) since 2004. Her career in art quilts began in 1988, when she learned to quilt, and has included more than 20 years of work as a professional artist, author, lecturer, curator, juror, and arts administrator.  She is the author of Masters: Art Quilts (Lark Books 2008), Masters: Art Quilts, Volume 2 (Lark Books 2011), and Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World (Lark Books 2012).

Sielman has written articles about art quilts for The Crafts Report and SAQA Journal, and has appeared on the HGTV show Simply Quilts. She was curator for the exhibit Masters Art Quilts: 1, which travelled to the International Quilt Festivals in Houston, Chicago, and Long Beach, the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky and the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts; and she served as a juror for “Pushing the Limits: New Expressions in Hooked Art” and “Niche Awards 2008.” 

Sielman lives in Storrs, Connecticut, with her husband, five children and two cats.

Photo credit to SAQA

You can find Lisa's podcast here:
or search for Lisa Walton Chats on iTunes.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

100 Days Project 2017

The 22 May was the first day of the NZ 100 Days Project.  Except it's not just NZ, there are plenty of people from around the world taking part too.  I did it last year and I'm doing it again.  This time with a side-kick, my own built-in accountability partner, my daughter.

We're both working on the idea of paper cutting.  I'm inspired by Matisse mainly, and trying to explore whether I can find my 'voice' or my 'hand' in free-hand paper cutting using scissors.  You can read more about my motivations and how I decided on my project here.

Day One is always exciting.  Will my idea work?  Will it look ok?  Am I going to come to loathe this after 100 days...or after 20?

But so far, so good.

I had absolutely no idea what my scissors would cut, but I always do gravitate towards birds.  So it wasn't much surprise when my finished work looked like this:

Day One was a beautiful day, sitting in the sun with my daughter, discovering with paper and scissors.  It was quick and easy because I'd set myself up for success.  Having a project that is quite specific helps (less choices to make), having a set size (I've decided to use sketchbook pages as my base), and having all the tools I need in one place (we've made a pack with card, scissors, zip-lock bags for small leftovers, storage for finished words and a glue stick) all contributed.  Day Two?  Well, that's today, so we'll see!

If you want to follow along with us, my project is:
My daughter's project is:

I'll also post now and again to Instagram, you can find my feed by clicking on the Instagram icon at the top left of this page.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The NZ Quilt Show - Interview with Diane Anderson

Diane Anderson is a New Zealand quilter who lives in beautiful Bream Bay, north of Auckland.  I first met Diane in person at a workshop with Jeanette DeNicolis Meyer and instantly warmed to her friendly, calm demeanour.   Diane is also a sought-after marriage celebrant, keen gardener, and likes to hike with friends in her spare time.  Diane is a mother of two children, a beloved retriever called Stella and a cat called Lola.  She will celebrate 40 years of marriage to Terry this year.

Diane specialises in hand work, including hand appliqué and Amish style hand-quilting.  I had a great chat with Diane about where she learnt her style of quilting, about her thoughts on keeping the skill and art alive and her top tips and ideas for learning and enjoying hand-quilting.

We talk about tools such as the long frames that Diane likes to use, and her favourite thimble, which is a Roxanne Thimble.  She also likes Roxanne needles for quilting and hand appliqué.  Diane recommends YLI thread for quilting and silk thread for hand appliqué.

Diane has travelled extensively, and it was on one of her travels to Houston, US, that she learnt the Amish influenced way she hand-quilts with Ester Miller.  She also loves antique quilts and owns two that she bought in the US and one she found in NZ.

Above is Lola the cat on one of Diane's beautiful antique quilts.

Diane only quilts for family and very close friends.  The amount of time she puts into each quilt means that she very rarely exhibits them and she confesses to often forgetting to photograph them too!  The quilt below is Diane's adaption of a Becky Goldsmith pattern that she made for her friend's 70th birthday.

Diane lists her influences as Gwen Marston, Pepper Cory, Barbara Chainey, Karen K Stone, Becky Goldsmith, Linda Seward, Jeanette DeNicolis Meyer and Mary Schaefer.

Diane can be reached through her celebrant site:

The sponsor for this episode is Carol’s Quilts.  Visit for innovative quilting templates and rulers.  I personally love Carol’s squares to triangles tool, which has helped me streamline my process for making ½ square triangles.  Thanks heaps Carol for supporting The New Zealand Quilt Show.

And if you would like to sponsor an episode of The New Zealand Quilt Show, email me now for details at

Download this episode (right click and save)


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Quilt Cutting Station

I've been in my new quilting studio for about six months now and I finally feel like I'm getting some order to the chaos.

When I first moved in I immediately set up my Sew-ezi sewing machine table and the two trestles I use and got to work.  Then everything else moved in around me, clutter happened and chaos began.

As we are using it as storage for furniture that can't go on the boat, it filled up pretty quickly and I've been sorting and shifting things around ever since.  The flat has two poles in the main room, which really annoy me effect the possible furniture configurations (see here for photos of the empty studio).

But I think I've finally sorted out a layout that is working.   I can see it staying this way for a little while and today I'm going to show you my cutting station part of the set up.

We don't have Ikea in NZ so there was no melding together several kitset units or anything fancy.  In my art gallery/studio I had a display table made of an old boat door, painted white and laid across two  huge chunky bits of wood.  So I set it up in my new studio as my cutting station, but it was too low.

I had a brainwave (probably from seeing all those cutting stations set up on the top of Ikea drawer units) to use a couple of old sets of drawers that I was already using for notions and paint etc.  It makes it quite tall, almost 98 cm, but a good height for me at 168 cm tall, especially if I wear shoes!  I also slipped another desk unit underneath for extra storage.  That consolidated some of the furniture that was taking up valuable floor space in my studio too, an added bonus.

*Hey Dad?  Recognise that drawer unit?!  It's one you made - was it the old telephone desk when we were kids?*

The table top is slightly wider at one end than the other, which is why I have the end unit below turned around and facing out - it gives the table better support.

I have my cutting mat on top at one end, and it's a really sunny spot (as you can see by the difficult photography), so when I leave I always shut the curtains so I don't get a warped cutting mat or faded fabrics if I leave them out.

I've put some 3M hooks on the other end unit for my most used rulers and my large rotary cutter.

I use the top of the table for holding all the necessary junk that collects when I'm cutting a quilt - patterns and notes, fabrics, pins, pencil case - it can become a bit of a mountain of junk but I cleaned it up specially to take photos!

The chunky bits of wood went outside onto the deck.  They were all natural to begin with so a bit of weathering won't hurt them if I want to use them again.  And I think I'll add some more 3M hooks to the other side of the smaller end unit for a few more rulers, a tape measure and my scissors.  I'm always doing the 'scissor pat', you know - when you pat down the fabric laying all over the table to find your scissors?

Yes, I'd love for it to be bigger.  I'd love to have two cutting mats end to end.  I'd love to have a table that I could adjust the height of with the push of a button.  But until I win Lotto, this is working well.  And heck, it's better than using the dining room table!

What's your cutting station like?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The NZ Quilt Show - Interview with Clare Smith

Clare Smith is a textile artist living and working in Tawa, a suburb of the capital city, Wellington.  Clare began teaching adult education classes in surface design, applique and Japanese bookmaking at the beginning of 1998, and has now taught at many NZ quilt symposiums, all over New Zealand and internationally including the UK and South Africa.  Clare is a talented fabric dyer, including the art of indigo dyeing, she is also widely skilled in other facets of textile arts including machine quilting, applique, pojagi, sashiko, costume design, and pretty much anything else she turns her hand to.

This is the link to Through Our Hands, which is an online magazine based in the UK that Clare is affiliated with

The above photograph is Clare's piece called 'Bitter Harvest', which we discuss in the interview.  We also talk about Clare's skills and interest in boro, sashiko, pojagi and costume design.  Clare recently made seagull costumes and showed these on her blog for our amusement!

Clare's steampunk sparrow quilt (below) was accepted into the Aotearoa Quilters's travelling exhibition called Flight.

You can find Clare at

and here at her blog

These are the other textile art links that we talked about too:

Thanks for chatting with me Clare!

This episode was sponsored by Kerry Glen of Tulis Textiles.  Visit Tulis Textiles for high quality batik fabrics, surface design tools and supplies, speciality rulers and great customer service!  Kerry also has a Breast Cancer Foundation donation project running at the moment, where she is donating a portion of every 15 degree squedge tool purchased to the foundation to honour her sister and her friend and all other women who have been affected by this disease.  Click here to see the quilt made with the free pattern and to purchase the tool.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pacific Stars Mystery Quilt!

I'm so excited!

(and nervous and freaking out just a little!)

In a couple of days time, the first clue to my first ever mystery quilt comes out over on Carol's Quilts!

A little while ago Carol asked me if I'd be interested in designing a six-month long mystery quilt along for her.  I jumped at the chance because it's something I've always secretly wanted to do.  It's been a real challenge but I'm proud of the final quilt and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in everyone's different fabric choices.

The quilt is called Pacific Stars, which may give you a little clue as to some of the block shapes.  The colours I chose are blues, teals and purples - colours that remind me of the Pacific ocean - but that's not to say it couldn't be done in a completely different colour way.  It could, and I'd love to see it in oranges and reds.  Or browns and blues might be interesting!

Anyway.  There is no sign up needed, but you'll need to head over to Carol's Quilts to get the clues every month.  I recommend you sign up to her monthly newsletter, that way you won't miss when a new clue comes out.  The quilt is 56" when finished, so a totally doable size and the clues are one a month, with eight 8" blocks being the maximum each time, so not overwhelming.

It would be great if people could share photographs of their work during the mystery and the best place to do that is probably Carol's Facebook page, so go and 'like' that too.

I'd love it if you'd join me in this adventure!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

So you dyed an ugly piece of fabric...

what do you do now?

Because dyeing results are the product of so many variables: dilution, type of fabric, temperature, manipulation of fabric, age of dye etc, there is always a bit of serendipity.  Plus, if you are constantly experimenting to see if you can get new and interesting patterns, you are sometimes going to get ugly.

It's a shame I can't find a picture of this piece of fabric before I added the blue.  But I probably didn't take one because it was such an uninspiring, insipid yellow.

It's a half metre piece, so I folded it in half and then formed some sort of circle shape that I fastened with rubber bands (I can still see the rubber band marks) and over dyed it with navy blue.

Hmmmm.  Still pretty uninspiring.  The contrast was pretty wild, I couldn't ever see myself finding a use for it in my studio, so I stuffed it back into the 'one day I'll overdye it' bag.

One day I did overdye it.  This time with an orange.  I think I made it even worse....

Woe is me!  I couldn't even bear the thought of putting it on the back of a quilt.  So in a last ditch effort, I cut it into two fat quarters.  One I dyed black and one I dyed brown:

Well, the brown one still has quite a defined pattern, but the contrast is taken down a peg or two and it almost looks like a wood grain/end of log pattern.  I could imagine finding a use for it now.

But the black!  The black I call success!  There is a subtle richness to it with hints of lots of different colours throughout.  You can almost see the original blue pattern but only just.  There is nothing flat or dull about this dark colour (you might have to see it up close and personal to really appreciate the fullness of colour - you know what they say about photographs and doing justice and all that).

So.  Did you dye an ugly piece of fabric?  Well, just keep dyeing it until you get something you like.  If all else fails - go black!

(And if even that fails, well, we all need a new clean up rag now and then don't we?)

Edited to add:  As my lovely commenters have pointed out, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what I deem as ugly might be lovely to someone else!  So there is another choice if you've dyed an 'ugly' fabric - see if someone else loves it and wants to give it a home...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hand Dyed Fabrics For Sale

I've been getting back into the swing of hand dyeing fabrics regularly.  It's one of my greatest joys to play with colour and try and decipher the language of dyes to get beautiful results every time.  There's only one problem with that - not enough cupboard space!

Now that I don't have a gallery and shop to sell my hand dyed fabrics through, they are beginning to pile up and spill over.

I'd dearly love to keep them all, but seeing as I couldn't possibly use them all in my lifetime, it's time to part with some.

These fabrics are high-quality 100% cotton broadcloth, width 114cm.  I use this as it's a little bit more tightly woven than quilting cottons, but not so tight that it's difficult to stitch through, and it has a beautifully smooth finish.

The dyes I use are commercial grade fibre reactive procion mx dyes.  They have great fade-resistant qualities as they form a chemical bond with cellulose fibres (but never store your fabrics in direct light).

I'm pretty confident you won't get colour runs when washing my hand dyes as I rinse and wash the bejeezers out of them - having a colour run on one of my quilts is my worst nightmare - but I can never guarantee things 100% due to water quality differences, different detergents or leaving quilts to sit damp (don't ever do it - dry quilts as soon as they have finished washing!)

So, on to the fabrics, they are all more or less one metre wide except this first one.

Fabric A - half metre dark purple ripple pattern.  This has some fuchsia touches at the top and bottom edges and a base colour of turquoise and darker blue vertical stripes peeking through. $NZD14 plus postage.

Fabric B - The photo doesn't give the richness of this fuchsia over-dye justice.  It's hard to photograph colours 100% accurate, I've done my best to get them looking right on my computer screen, but remember that different computer monitors may show them a little different.  $NZD28 plus postage.

Fabric C - This one is an interesting rippled pattern that I made as a base fabric for an underwater quilt.  I made several though, and this one didn't get used.  It has turquoise sections interspersed with some muddier green and brown sections $NZD28 plus postage.

Fabric D - SORRY SOLD - my favourite!  It reminds me of a Monet waterlily painting.  Aqua and turquoise with touches of pink deepening to navy blue towards the bottom edge.  $NZD28 plus postage.

Fabric E - SORRY SOLD -  One of my water ripples and reflection pieces.  Greys, purple/blue and a touch of aqua.  This has some beautiful shapes and colour changes through it.  $NZD28 plus postage.

Fabric F - highly patterned with lots of interest through it, this piece was dyed chartreuse but crammed between fuchsia and burgundy pieces resulting in some really appealing crease patterns and a sprinkling of white highlights.  $NZD28 plus postage.

That's enough for now.  I might put up some smaller pieces soon, perhaps some fat-quarter bundles?  Let me know if there are any specific colours you are interested in.  

If you wish to purchase any of the pieces above, please email me theslightlymadquiltlady at gmail dot com

New Zealand postage:
Half a metre of fabric fits in a paper A5 envelope and costs $2
I can fit up to two metres of fabric in $3 prepaid bag
I can fit up to four metres of fabric in a $4 prepaid bag

Overseas postage needs to be quoted individually so please email me for a rate.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Keeping a Quilt Inventory

An inventory is a complete list of items - such as all the wonderful, beautiful quilts you have made.

I started to keep one over a year ago when my SAQA mentor, Lisa Call, suggested I do so.  We all know documentation is a good idea and that we should probably get around to it one day, but I felt it was too big.  I had no idea where to start.  

But, wanting to be a good mentee, I took the plunge, wrote up a very basic form and started filling it in.  Every time I refer to it, I'm so glad I did.

What information should a quilt inventory have?  Mine is pretty basic.  I include an image, the name, size, date completed, artist statement, materials used, techniques, where it's been exhibited, awards won, date sold and price.  I know other artists whose inventories are a lot more detailed, but at the very least an inventory should have an image, name, size and date completed.

There is plenty of software and apps around to keep inventories but I just made a table in a Word document.  I can add an extra row whenever I finish another quilt.  An Excel spreadsheet would work just as well, and I can't think now why I didn't use one, it would be handy to be able add more columns easily.  

What do I use my inventory for?  First off, it makes it really easy to check sizes without having to unroll a quilt and measure it (after finding the right quilt in amongst all the rolls and wrappings first!).  It also helps me remember at a glance what quilts I have available if I'm considering entering a show or exhibition.  My inventory helps me know how many quilts I've made in a year, or what date I made a particular one.  The artist statement helps remind me what I was trying to achieve when making a particular piece and listing the techniques and materials reminds me of how I made it.  I always think I'll remember, but time wears away those little details.

I can use it to feel good about my productivity if I'm feeling a bit slow - it's nice to look back and celebrate what I've done.  And occasionally I glance through it to remind myself of what I wanted to try next.  Seeing all the images together helps me remember what problem I wanted to solve.  

Are you overwhelmed at the thought of trawling through all your quilts to add to an inventory?  Then don't!  Just start with the quilt you finished last and make a pledge to add every quilt you make from now on.  Easy and no stress and it will get you in the habit.  Then, every now and then when you are unrolling quilts for some other reason, measure a couple of older ones up and add them to your inventory.  Grow it by little steps.

An inventory is such a valuable tool, even if you think you'll never enter shows or make enough work to worry about such a thing.  I wish I had started mine at the very beginning of my quilt making career.  So start one today, and, if you already keep one, tell me how you work yours, I'd love to learn from you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Things to do with freezer paper

I love freezer paper.  It's a real must-have in my quilting studio.  I never considered that people might not know what to do with it, or only know one use, but Carol (from Carol's Quilts) told me that she often gets asked what it's used for.

So, here's a little video I put together for Carol on what to do with freezer paper.  It has more uses that just applique!

If you're in NZ and can't find it anywhere, click here for a link to freezer paper for sale on Carol's website.

I recently used it in my Wingbeats II quilt to make stencils and paint the herons and the waterlines.

And I used it to help me cut out the organza moths in Dusk Moth.  I show that technique and how to use it as a stencil in the video.

The video is not an in depth how-to on every single technique - that would need a whole series of vids, it's such versatile stuff - but it will give you a whole heap of ideas on how to use freezer paper and then you can experiment for yourself.  Or if a particular idea takes your fancy, you can go searching for a more detailed tutorial.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Podcast Interview with Lisa Walton - Textile Artist

Lisa Walton is a textile artist from Sydney, Australia.  Lisa started quilting about 25 years ago, and now she makes art, runs her own fibre arts business, travels, teaches, runs textile tours, slips in a bit of jewellery making, volunteers, is the SAQA Vice President and I’m sure I’m only brushing the surface of what Lisa fits into life!

Growth by Lisa Walton

Lisa and I have a great chat about all the interesting and exciting things she fits into her life.  I would love to book into one of the textile tours she runs - Tokyo Quilt Festival in January 2018 sounds just my thing!  We also talk about the realities of being a travelling textile teacher, redefining yourself as an artist and giving yourself permission to play.

Barcelona Sunset by Lisa Walton

Lisa's textile art business called Dyed and Gone to Heaven and you can purchase online from her at  

You will also find her classes, her ebooks, details of the textile tours she runs and her blog and gallery.  Here's a link to a video of her recent solo exhibition

Australiana Collage Series #4 by Lisa Walton

Lisa will be running four classes at the National Quilt Symposium in October this year.  Cityscapes, Opulent Overlays, Creative Beading and Indigo, Shibori and Beyond.  They are all popular classes that Lisa's students always come away inspired and keen to try more.

At times during the podcast you'll hear the rain in the background.  That was the beginning of Cyclone Cook that came through New Zealand during the week.  Luckily Northland missed out on most of it, further down the island people weren't so lucky.

I could have chatted to Lisa for another half an hour at least.  She's an amazing person who fits so much into life.  I hope you enjoy our interview.

You can listen by clicking play on the audio player below, or clicking the link and downloading the episode.  You can also subscribe in iTunes or your favourite podcast catcher app.  If you enjoyed the show, please tell a friend and consider leaving me a review in iTunes.  I’d love to hear your feedback so leave a comment below or email me at theslightlymadquiltlady at 
If you are interested in sponsoring an episode of the podcast, please get in touch.

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