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, January 27, 2017

Christmas Gift Bags

I recently spent 10 days in Australia visiting my family.  My parents live on the Sunshine coast, and my siblings - who have spread themselves inconveniently around the rest of the continent - were all converging for a visit.  I thought I better head over too if I wanted to catch all of them (six plus various spouses, nieces and nephews) at once.

The problem is that it's so darn hot over there at this time of year that you can't do much except splash in the pool or visit some place airconditioned!  We had days of 36 celsius (97 fahrenheit) and over 90% humidity.  Urgh.  But hey, I love my family!

While we were there I just happened to visit a fabric store.  Where I found a bundle of six Christmas fat quarters for $3.  I should have bought two because fat quarters make awesome gift bags and I need to replenish my stock.

Fabric gift bags are great because they:

  • save time on Christmas Eve when you realise you haven't wrapped half the pressies;
  • are reusable so your time investment in making them is repaid over and again;
  • save waste - I hate seeing that rubbish sack full of single use wrapping paper;
  • look pretty!
I make mine by sewing two fat quarters together WRONG sides together on three sides.  Then turn them inside out and sew RIGHT sides together to make an enclosed seam.  Fold over the top raw edge twice to make a neat hem and sew down.  Sew a length of ribbon to the side seam with a tight zig-zag stitch and you're done.  

You  can see the enclosed side seam and the top hem in the picture above.  I sometimes use ric-rac or twill tape instead of ribbon.  They are more durable but I don't hold as much in my stash.

I make gift tags from old Christmas cards and thread them onto the ribbon before tying it.  Simple!

What do you do to make your Christmases or holiday celebrations simpler?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wingbeats II - SAQA Trunk Show Quilt

SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) have travelling trunk shows available for shipping and display around the world.  These are collections of many small (7" x 10" portrait) pieces of textile art from a wide variety of artists.  There is no theme and no jurying, so skill, technique, subject and interpretation is wide and varied.  They are also mounted on card and in protective cellophane sleeves so all in all, they make a great addition to any quilt show or exhibition (just in case anyone was looking for something of the like).

This year the call for entries closed November 30, 2016.  I squeaked in with my finish and was about to enter my piece online when SAQA announced an extension to the deadline of about two weeks.

I had sat down the day before and written a critique of my first piece.  It's something I've taken to doing after my starting it in my year of mentoring.  It's really useful to stand back, take a new look and say what worked, what didn't and what you would do differently next time.  All in a constructive, non-critical way of course - I have been known to be so 'out of love' with a piece that I've critiqued it as "horrible, grossly flat and uninspiring, with such a twee theme that it deserves it's own special spot in the rubbish bin"!  Not particularly helpful ;-)

The piece above is the first quilt I was going to enter.  

My critique of it was: "The transparency and colours of the herons work well, but three on such a small piece is a bit overwhelming and confuses them a bit too much.  I like the shapes of the water, they have a nice flow, but I want to get the edges of them neater.  The overall theme of the herons and moon sits well with me, but I need things neater, tidier and more symmetrical to be entirely happy.  I experimented with adding hand stitching to the moon, but I don't think it adds anything and I think the border treatment needs to be less bold - it is overwhelming.

So with that in mind, and very thankful for a deadline extension, I started a second quilt.

It's so gratifying when you plan and scheme and it all works out!  This quilt is exactly what I wanted.  Cleaner, clearer, more finished and more polished.  I used one of my favourite techniques, which comprises of a complete overlay of organza over the whole quilt and that meant I didn't have to stitch to attach, I could just stitch to enhance.

You'll see from the closeup that the herons were printed on, not added as pieces of fabric.  Some of the blue water pieces are printed, some are fabric pieces below the organza overlay.  The moon is a piece of silk underneath the organza and I finished the quilt with a facing.

So - does this mean I should remake every quilt I finish?  No.  But it does push me further along the path of working in a series.  And it does make me think about taking out some of my older quilts and doing a proper critique of them.  You never know where it might lead!