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!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

In Praise of The Humble Stipple

I don't know why stippling (or all-over meandering) gets such a bad rap.  It's a free-motion quilting pattern that has got a whole heap going for it and we really shouldn't knock it like we do.

I was thinking about the stipple because I decided to use it, and using it reminded me of why I like it. 

Here's why I'm celebrating the humble stipple today:

  • Stippling fills an area quickly.
  • The pattern gives a really nice overall texture.
  • It's the type of pattern that looks good stitched out big, small, or anywhere in between.
  • Stippling is an excellent practice stitch because you need good 'flow' to get it nice and smooth, and there is no sharp corners, which can be traps for newbies.
  • I find it easy to use to travel around the quilt top.

My art quilt pieces tend to use more organic patterns - not even patterns really - just lines to indicate texture and so are often uneven and kind of random.  But when I'm stitching a more traditional quilt, the stipple gets a look in.

Here's a detail from one of my art quilts with a 'texture' quilting pattern to indicate the tree line in the distance.

Our quilt guild makes donation quilts - we call them community quilts - and most of them get given to Women's Refuge (a women's shelter to help women and children trying to get out of violent situations).  The one below was made and basted by several other group members and I've taken on the task of quilting it.

So I'm using it as a bit of a practice piece, with the intent of filling every block with a different free-motion filler.  And of course, where do you start when looking for free-motion quilting fillers?  But with stippling of course!

The next pattern I chose was curlicues.  Another nice pattern, but compare it with the picture of stippling above.  What do you think?  The stipple gets my vote for evenness of texture.

Sure, if we use any pattern too much it gets boring.  We need to be sensible and incorporate stippling with other patterns to add variety and places for the eyes to rest and move to.  But don't discount stippling just because everyone does it.  Everyone does it for a reason - it's an excellent, and very useful quilting pattern.

So here's to you, Humble Stipple!  May you live on long in the hearts of quilters.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The New Zealand Quilt Show - Interview with Marge Hurst

Welcome to the show notes for episode 43 of The New Zealand Quilt Show.

Marge Hurst, quiltmaker, teacher, author and judge, has been quilting for nearly 35 years.  She began the craft while studying for her City and Guilds of London Embroidery Certificate as it was part of the curriculum.  Unfortunately for embroidery, quilting won out and once her certificate was completed (with distinction) embroidery was shown the door and patchwork became Marge’s first love.

Marge has had her quilts exhibited widely and won many awards, including having a quilt accepted for Quilt National 1995, winning the first ever best of show in the NZ National Quilt Symposium, and having three solo exhibitions.

Starlet by Marge Hurst

Marge has taught all around NZ and internationally, she is a respected quilt judge and she has also written numerous articles for NZ and international magazines.  Her quilts have been published in books and she recently starred in a NZ TV show, Hearts in Craft, where she talked about and showed her quilts.

Marge was awarded life membership of Aotearoa Quilters in 2009 recognising her contribution to quilting in NZ including being a founding member of AQ (then NANZQ), committee member for 6 years, 4 of those as president and newsletter editor.

Here's where you can find out more about Marge and see more of her work:

Marge and I talk about the history of quilting in NZ, the birth and growth of Aotearoa Quilters, and quilting groups on the internet and the influence they've had on the quilting community.

One of Marge's cosmic series
We discuss Marge's style of quilting, including how colour is her biggest motivation and she gives us some tips on how to develop colour confidence.  We also learn what colour puce really is!

Marge is teaching at this year's National Quilt Symposium in Christchurch.  Her two-day class 'Colour Your Craft', has a few vacancies left and if you would like to develop your colour theory and intuition, this would be the class for you.

Thanks for chatting with me Marge!

Thank you to everyone who supports this podcast and helps me tell the stories of our quiltmakers, artists and professionals.  If you would like to support me, head over to iTunes and leave a five star review, pop over to my podbeanhosting site and leave a donation, or consider advertising your business by sponsoring an episode.  Most importantly, tell a friend about The New Zealand Quilt Show and how to listen.  Email me at  Cheers!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bernina Walking Foot Maintenance

Here's why I like social media - and in particular, Instagram!

A couple of days ago I noticed my walking foot was jamming up a little.  I've been entrusted with quilting the raffle quilt for our quilt guild and I want it to be as perfect as possible so I was watching carefully and I'd see and feel the stitches getting smaller as the foot struggled to pull the quilt through.  The grabby bits (real tech speak!) were getting stuck at the end of their grab and weren't releasing to come forward and make another grab.

I undid the foot and had a good look but I couldn't see anything obvious.  So I took some photographs so I could put the thing back together if it fell into a million pieces, grabbed my screwdriver and started to unwind the one screw I could see.

All that did was loosen the foot prongs so I could take the actual foot part off the foot.  But that allowed me to fiddle with the prongs and rollers a bit closer and I found that one of the rollers was seized.  I gave everything I could a clean and I oiled the rollers, but still no luck.  You can see me pointing to the roller in question in the photo below.

So I turned to Instagram and posted a little help me please video and tagged the good people at Bernina in.

Within a short while I had a suggestion about working the oil in by turning the roller with my finger or tweezers.  I tried it and it seems to have worked!  And Bernina even contacted me again to ask if I had had any luck.  How awesome!

I've had my Bernina Aurora 440 for at least 10 years and I use it constantly and I absolutely love it (I'm not being paid to say that, but hey Bernina if you're listening - I'm totally open to sponsorship!).  My walking foot has travelled so many miles that I thought there was a good chance that I'd worn it out.  But no, it just needed a bit of TLC and it keeps on trucking.

So my suggestion to those of you who have Bernina walking feet, is to oil the rollers regularly and then you'll avoid them seizing like mine did.  If it has seized, work the oil in by oiling and then turning the roller with your finger or tweezers.  Give the oil some time to soak in too.  I used my clear sewing machine oil, which should be fine enough for the job.  Wipe it well so you don't get oil on your precious quilt and then you are good to go.

So here's a big thank you to @berninanz on Instagram for responding so quickly, providing me with fantastic help and letting me carry on with quilting the guild's precious quilt.

And thank you to the other's who offered suggestions and even the loan of their walking foot!  What a fab community.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Slow down and smell the library books...

People often remark that I seem to fit a lot into life.  Maybe it looks that way from the outside - I write a blog, produce a podcast, write for a newsletter company, make art, make hand-made goods to sell, work as a midwife, raise two kids and run a houseboathold - but I always feel as if I could do more, be more efficient, stop sitting around, stop losing myself in social media...I'm sure you've had those feelings too at some point.

In an attempt to be the person I want to be, I can get really caught up in the 'busy' syndrome, and I realise that that has some big downfalls.  This was brought home to me the other day when I was in my local library.  

I'm a big fan of public libraries.  It starts with fond memories from when I was a kid.  The family loading into the van on Saturday mornings, going to the library and being allowed to browse and bring home five books each (there were six kids and two parents, that's a lot of books and I'm guessing we all had to carry our own!).

Photo from Pixabay
The library was a favourite place of mine in primary school too.  Mrs Hammond, the librarian, was a kind, gentle woman who let kids help with the library tasks and I enjoyed books so much that I was a librarian at high school for a year or two as well.  

The Wellington public library was an amazing place when I was working at my first job in the city.  It had a great cafe where I'd meet my sisters for a coffee and then find a couple of books to take home.  It was always a warm refuge from the sometimes vicious Wellington weather and I spent many happy hours among the shelves there.

Back to the present day, and busy Me makes use of the on-line library catalogue.  I'll search for the books I want for the kids or myself, request them and then run in and grab them when I'm in town checking off my errand list.  I use the audio book service to download and listen to audio books when I'm multitasking and I use the after hours return slot when I'm on my way to work.

But I don't 'enjoy' the library anymore.  I don't go in with time to spare and browse and sit and soak in the knowledge and run my finger along book spines and flick through a book at random.  And I realised how much I missed that when I did it the other day by accident.  I went in to find a couple of books for my son and then I looked at my watch, realised I had a spare 30 minutes and so headed upstairs to the non-fiction section with no set plan or checklist or even an idea of what I was looking for.

And here is what I came home with:

The Unburnt Egg by Brian Gill - stories from a museum curator, 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - fiction I had been recommended for my 12 year old son, 

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - more recommended fiction for my boy,

Living Wild by Bear Grylls - I thought this might appeal to my son, who is into hunting and sticks and fires and outdoors in a big way,

Dracopedia by William O'Connor - this one is for me!  A guide to drawing dragons.  I'm thinking of making another dragon quilt,

Making Pop-Ups and Novelty Cards by Trish Phillips and Ann Montanaro - one for my 9 year old daughter who loves crafty things,

Weta Workshop by Luke Hawker - Weta is New Zealand's amazing design and special effects studio and workshop that (among other achievements) did the costuming and digital characters for The Lord of the Rings movie.  My daughter thinks she might like to work there so this book seemed appropriate!

And lastly, Possum on a Cold Tin Roof by Charlie Janes - hunting and bushcraft adventures and mishaps written by a good keen kiwi bloke with a sense of humour.  This is for my husband who doesn't read much, but I think I picked right.....

I took this sneaky picture of him reading this afternoon. Don't tell him!
The other thing I came home with was satisfaction.  I had found books to appeal to everyone.  I had let the library work it's magic and turn up gems that I wouldn't have found electronically.  And I had enjoyed myself.  That's what the 'busy' syndrome can do if I let it take over.  It can suck the pleasure out of life because I'm so busy trying to cram in everything I 'should' be doing that I forget to have fun while I'm doing it.

So here's to libraries, and here's to slowing down and smelling the pages!