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!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Piwakawaka in Dappled Light

I remember spending a lot of time in the bush as a kid.  We lived on a 15 acre block that had lots of regenerating native bush and some huge old macrocarpa trees and we would run around and climb trees and play games and explore.

There's a special kind of light that hits the forest floor through the undergrowth.  It's green and bright and dark and soft all at the same time.  And that's often where you'd find the fantails, or piwakawaka, hanging out.  They are bug eaters and I guess they can see the bugs better in the shafts of sunlight.  They used to follow us, eating the bugs that we would stir up with our passage through the branches.

I started this quilt with a reverse applique.  The positive cut out of the dark grey leaves got used for another quilt, but I had cut them out of a big piece of fabric so I could use the negative shape too.  I placed some bright green hand-dyed fabric behind the grey fabric and fused it place.

Next came an overlay of silk organza to tone it down a bit and tie it together.  I stencilled a few fern fronds (the burgandy and the white one) onto the silk overlay to go with the light green fronds that are underneath.

The fantail shapes are a pinky fabric underneath the overlay.  The overlay is mostly green but had some blue in that upper region and I wanted to pick that up and get some warmth into that top corner so pink birds plus blue overlay equals a little bit purple.

I added some coloured pencil detail to the birds before I sandwiched everything together and began quilting it.  I began with the shapes that would create a foundation - a circle (marked with a mixing bowl) and the outlines of the leaves, fronds and birds.

I even recorded a little video of some of the free-motion quilting I did on one of the fern fronds.  I mistakenly call it a nikau frond in the video - who knows why!

If you follow me on Instagram (find me here), you will have seen the bottom photo of the fantail quilting in progress.  I wanted to convey the funny way the birds dart and flit and circle and almost seem to play, but are actually hunting and feeding.  

And here they are finished.  I had a lot of fun doing the 'graffiti' quilting.  Free-form flowy shapes, a few pebbles and paislies thrown in to fill up the corners.

I used an organic straight line background texture for the rest of the quilt.  It pushes the background back nicely and provides a good contrast in texture to the quilting inside the circle.  I varied the colour of the thread to help convey the dappled light feeling.  The photo above is taken in very strong side sunlight to show you the texture.

I'm not entirely sure of the quilt's name yet.  But I had better decide quickly as it will be on display and for sale at KOAST this coming weekend!


  1. Charlotte, you have created a beautiful art piece! Love the quilting, the colours and the video. Thank you for sharing the detail of the creation of Piwakawaka in Dappled Light with us.

  2. Do you have a color preference for silk organza or tulle? Is there a difference in the two fabrics? Do they disappear once quilted or can you see the color of the organza (tulle-we use tulle here, though I suppose people use silk organza. I haven't heard much about silk organza used in the way you are using it)

  3. Love this, and I learned so much from your description. Thank you!


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