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!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gentlewomen, start your engines!

February is when my year really gets going.  Our summer break seems to have gone on and on this year, but it's finally drawing to a close and the kids start back at school tomorrow.  I do get some quilting work done when they are around, but my concentration is constantly interrupted and it's just not the same as having unbroken hours to absorb myself in my work.

Summer in the Bay of Islands.
It seemed like 2014 was a year of major upheaval.  I'm hoping 2015 will be slower, with less excitement.  I've told my husband - no buying boats, no moving house, no expanding the business.

I didn't think I was going to have a word for this year, but one seems to have found me anyway and it's been floating round in my head unbidden....consolidate.

According to, consolidate is a verb that means to make something physically stronger or more solid; strengthen one's position or power; or combine a number of things into a single more effective or coherent whole.

And I think it suits what I want for this year.

I want to settle into this boat life and make it work for us.  I want to strengthen my quilt making and further develop my own style and way of working.  I want to gather my far-flung quilting supplies and fabrics and make an effective working space here on MV Cerego.  I just want to settle in and stabilise ourselves in all respects before we stretch our wings any further.  

So no goals or resolutions for me.  Just a word to remember (before I get excited and hare brained about anything new and shiny).

With this is mind, I've been working on organising my sewing corner in the boat.

I've had some fabric here and some at my Mother in Law's and the fabric that I did have here has been spread around in several drawers and cupboards, interspersed with batting and notions and everything else a quilter needs. (There is another cupboard identical to the one in the picture on the opposite wall, plus a small set of three drawers.)  I consolidated (sorry, couldn't resist!) the fabrics into the plastic containers that slide nicely under my Sew-Ezi table and now have all my sewing notions, sketchbooks, threads, iron, UFO's etc sorted and in order in the cupboards and drawers.  I've put my batting down below in a big plastic tub and eventually I'll get more of those shallow plastic tubs and move the rest of my fabric here to the boat too.  They will go down below in the kid's playroom on wide storage shelves.

I cut and iron and draw and work at the dining table.  The cutting mat and rulers slide nicely under the couch.  I have a small heat resistant pad for ironing that slides away behind the set of drawers, but need to make a bigger, sturdier one at some stage.

The major flaw in the plan is a design wall.  I've got a small portable board (you can see it in the photo above, beside the sewing machine table) but it's too small really.  I've been using the floor, but that's a pain when I want to slide out my fabric containers and sit at my machine.  And the cat likes to sit on my work and donate fur or rearrange my layouts.

That's Wild Puss helping me cut batting for the design wall.
So I've taken down my Swallow quilt and tacked up a length of cotton batting instead.  That wall slopes gently inwards so I had to tack it at the bottom too or it floated out and swung around.  I usually have polystyrene behind my batting so I can pin straight in, but this works for now, and is a huge improvement on the floor.

Step one in consolidation, done.

PS - Note to my Stepmother:  That is the wonderful sewing machine cover you made for me, it's just inside out!  I'll explain why another time xxx


  1. Your sewing corner may be little but it's full of light. As a creative person you need all your 'stuff' around you so it easy to reach. How does the cat like boat life?

  2. So glad you got your design wall, it is a must! I will hearby quit complaining about my small sewing space, now that I see how you're doing it. Carry on!

  3. I, too, need a design wall - I'm hoping for space at art school for that :)


  4. Great space and with all the snow in Chicago it's great to see sun and blue!

  5. Looks like a wonderful spot to sew in. Enjoy your bits of freedom with the kids in school!

  6. Pleased to see you have been able to organise a creative space for yourself, lovely views I bet from the window!

  7. Consolidate. Such a NICE word. I sure could do with some consolidating around my home. Great job on your efforts!

  8. Hi Charlotte I was just wondering whether it would be possible to look you up while we are travelling in your area, having read about the boat and your quilting it would be a shame not to meet you. We arrive in Paihia on 23rd and will be staying at the Blue Pacific Apartments until 3rd March so will have some time to get to know the area. Is there anything Textile related going on during that time? Hope we can meet up. Yvonne

  9. I'm sure it will be more like how you had the lounge set up before your quilting studio was built... perhaps it would be less boxlike if you had your machine facing outwards, rather than tucked into a very small corner? Terrific WIP on the design wall by the way... more of a revolving art gallery.

  10. It's so encouraging to see another quilter working in a "real" sized space instead of a house sized studio LOL


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