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!

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.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Layering Organza

This is a quick post particularly for Miss Jean who commented on my last blog post.  She wrote:

That is a wonderful story for your sweet dusky quilt. I'm intrigued with the layering ideas and would like to learn more. Can you point me?

Well Miss Jean, I did point you in the direction of the process post I wrote recently about making my Early Morning Fishing quilt.  But I thought I'd give you a couple of photos here of another quilt.

It's still in process, but the first photo shows you pretty much the final layout.  It's not completely cropped, but I left the white background fabric sticking out of the side there so you can see the plant printing on it.

There is a whole piece of hand dyed silk organza laid over the entire background and the swallows, also made of silk organza, are placed either under or on top of that overlay depending on how far away I want them to appear.

But I really wanted to show you what's going on at the bottom of the quilt.

If you click on the photo I'm pretty sure you'll see it bigger.  I've folded the piece of organza overlaying the background up and out of the way.  You can see the plant printing on white fabric and then lots of different bits and pieces of silk organza arranged over that.  When the organza overlay is put back, the colours mute down a bit and the shapes get a little more indistinct, but they add complexity and interest.

This is what I talk about when I say I'm layering up silk organza.

There is either Mistyfuse (a fusible web) on the back of the shapes, or I use a bit of BoNash fusible granules under the top overlay to hold everything in place (shout out to Tulis Textiles online here in NZ where you can get both those products).

I hope this helps, Miss Jean!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Tale of a Quilt

This is a bit different from my usual posts, it's written for a different audience, but I thought I'd share it with you too.

The Tale of a Quilt
By Charlotte Scott

I’m putting the finishing touches to my latest quilt.  Doing the binding, thinking up a name, stitching a label.  These are the bits that you know you have to do, and you’re glad you’ve done them when they’re done, but getting around to doing them?  Well, it’s a bit of a drag.  I think it’s because I get so excited about the making of a new quilt that the finishing bit makes me sad that that excitement is over.

I mostly make quilts designed to be hung on the wall rather than used on a bed.  People call them art quilts, but either way, they’re still quilts.  Three layers, quilted together with stitches, made with fabric and telling a story.  This particular one started with paint.  I’d always wanted to try printing with plant material, so one day I just did.  I picked a branch from a weedy bush outside, rolled some textile paint on it, laid it down on white fabric and pressed it down.  It made such a fabulous print that I literally clapped my hands with glee!  Such a great beginning.

I’m always trying to get a sense of light into my quilts.  It’s harder than it looks and I’ve had many pieces that turn out flat.  But since I’ve started using translucent silk organza, layered up to get depth, I’m getting better results.  So once my flora prints were dry and heat set, I used layers of silk organza over them to build up an image, to discover what the quilt wanted to tell me.

Playing with silk organza is like playing with fabric and playing with paint at the same time.  I’m trying to learn the theory behind how layering the different colours influences the final overall colour, but it doesn’t seem to follow many rules.  You’d think that yellow organza plus blue organza equals green, but it’s not always so.  I hand dye my organza so the subtle changes across one piece alter the final result, as does which order you put down the fabrics, how deep the colour is on each piece, what base fabric you are putting them down on and so on and so on.  It's an endless process of experimentation, auditioning and decision making that delights the creative part of my soul.

Dusk Moth by Charlotte Scott

I cut out some moths and a silk moon to use as focal points for what had turned out to be a dreamy, dusk-like background.  Was that my subconscious talking?  Dusk and dawn are my favourite times of day - beginnings and endings, and always such perfect light.

Then it was on to the final big step.  The free-motion quilting is a meditative process that transforms the flat plane of a quilt to a wonderfully textured surface.  It’s like we get another chance, another opportunity to add a layer to the story that is the quilt.

And now it’d ended, the quilt is made, the story wound up.  I’m a little sad, but I know another quilt, another story, will start again soon.    

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Podcast Interview with Juliet van der Heijden, The Tartankiwi

Juliet van der Heijden lives in Christchurch, New Zealand but is originally from Scotland, hence her alternate name, The Tartankiwi.  Juliet has had careers in archaeology and radiography but has now turned her skills to quilting and, in particular, the exacting art of designing and creating wonderful foundation paper pieced patterns.

Juliet's patterns are available for PDF download from her Etsy or Payhip stores.  We talk about how she got into foundation paper piecing (FPP), why she loves it and how she believes everyone can find a way to make it work for them.

Juliet will be teaching two classes at the New Zealand National Quilt Symposium in Christchurch in October this year.  A beginners class for those just starting out with FPP and an intermediate for those wanting to tackle something to stretch their skills.

Juliet began designing FPP patterns using Quilt Assistant, a free quilt design software.  She used her pattern income to save up and purchase EQ7, which is now her design tool of choice.

Juliet is active on social media and we discuss how much of an influence technology has had on helping her find her 'thing', grow her community and develop her business.
Pieced by Juliet, quilted by the talented Leeanne of Quilt Me Kiwi

We also touch on copyright and I urge you to check out Juliet's blog post called Copyright/copywrong.  Juliet is not only a talented designer, but writes thoughtful and insightful articles.

Oh, and the book!  Did I mention the book?!  Juliet has been working away on her very first book.  It will be released this October and I learn all about what it will contain.  Preorder it here!

Juliet's favourite tool for FPP is the 'add a quarter' ruler that has a little lip to help you trim your FPP seams to a neat quarter of an inch.

Find Juliet's blog here:
And her Instagram feed here:

Thanks so much for chatting with me Juliet!

Click play below to listen to Juliet's interview, or click on the link to download and listen later.  You can also subscribe to my podcast via iTunes or any other Podcast service.  If you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving me a comment below, a review on iTunes and telling a friend.  Thanks!

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friday, March 31, 2017

100 Days Project 2017 - Creative Practice

Last year I took part in the 100 days creative practice challenge.  I found it immensely rewarding.  Frustrating and hard sometimes, but overall I found my art going places I hadn't foreseen and finding ideas I hadn't thought of and possibilities I hadn't discovered.  (You can find my project here.)

So I'm doing it again this year.  It's running earlier, from May till August, which suits me better.  And my daughter is really keen to take part, so I have an accountability partner already!

I learnt a few things last year:

  • Keep it fairly small, broad possibilities are sometimes just as paralysing as narrow ones.
  • Think about a standard format in case you want to present your work as a whole in a 100 days show.
  • Have something new and shiny to work with to motivate you! (Last year mine was a brand new sketch book.)
And I've been thinking a lot about what I want to explore and how.

Last year was 100 days of faces.  I had never felt very comfortable drawing faces or including them in my work.  I'm much more comfortable with them now, but I still don't really include them in my work, so my first idea was to explore adding faces into my quilts.

But that's awfully broad.

So then I started thinking about how I work, what techniques I already use and what techniques I'd like to explore or develop.  100 days of printing was quite appealing.  But it's not very transportable and really does mean that I have to be quite prepared for each day's work.  My life doesn't always run like that...

I've ended up with 100 days of scissors.  A few things lead me to this.  I had been thinking about how I work with a lot of silhouettes in my work and I use scissors constantly.  Then when Matisse and his large paper cut-outs was mentioned on the AQ education seminar that I just went to (more on that later), ideas started to fall into place.  Matisse's 'hand' was very evident in his work, he was sketching with card, using the cut-outs to play with layout and test colour and form.  I do the same with my fabric cut outs, but I'm a lot more 'staid' in my cutting out.  I draw first and cut on the line.  So what will happen if I try and develop my 'hand' by free-hand cutting?  What sort of shapes and forms will appear?  Will you be able to see my voice and style?

So I've been researching Matisse and his gouaches decoupes and I've remembered that I've followed Raymond Saa on Instagram for a while (have I subconsciously been thinking about this longer than I know?) and I found Claire Brewster as inspiration too.  I'm going to keep thinking and researching, but when it gets close to May 22, start day, I'm going to put the books away, stop looking at other's work, and see where my scissors will take me.

My new 100 days project link is here (I think it's working).  I'm charlottewaves (my daughter is oliviawaves, she wanted matching user names and I'm indulging her while she's young enough to still want to be like me).

My shiny new things to add motivation?  A black paged sketchbook, a stack of coloured card and some brand new, very sharp, dedicated to paper, scissors.

Will you be doing the 100 days challenge this year?  And if you are, what's your project going to be?

Edited to add:  Here's the link if you want to sign up click the register button in the top right corner.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

More Fabric Dye Test Results

I've been testing more of the old dyes that were donated to me.  In each colour group, the colour of the dye solution when made up is in the top photograph, and the fabric, after it is rinsed and dried, is in the bottom photograph.  In this set, from top left going clockwise, is reddish navy, purple, fuchsia and eggplant.

Not a bad result at all.  And no, I haven't upped the saturation, fuchsia is just so pink that it almost hurts your eyes.

Again, from top left clockwise: golden, orange, rosebud and bright yellow.  The orange has washed out significantly but the rest are pretty good.

Here we have jade green, intense blue, grass green and brightest green.  I don't know who's idea of jade that jade green was, but it's not what I'd call jade.  And intense blue washed out to a nice summer sky blue.  

None of them are as bad as the blue I first trialled.  They all still have enough potency to be usable.  But I've taken snippets of these test fabrics and pasted them in my dye book for record keeping purposes.  I've also taken snippets and glued them onto the tops of the dye powder jars so I'll remember at a glance that some of these are not what they seem from the name.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What do do with dyed silk organza?

Just a quick post to follow on from my last post about dyeing silk organza.

So what do you do with silk organza once it's dyed?  You can cut it up and collage it, you can stick a lightweight fusible on the back and cut intricate appliqué shapes from it, you can use it in layers like I did with my 'Early Morning Fishing' quilt.

Or you can use it as a whole piece for an overlay or underlay.  Here's what I'm doing with the piece I dyed for my how-to process photographs:

I've done some flora printing (printing with plant material) onto a white background fabric and then just laid the whole piece of organza over the top.  So far I'm liking where it's heading.

Friday, March 17, 2017

How to dye silk organza. Technique 1

I've been asked for some more information about how I dye my silk organza.  I'm planning to show you several different techniques that I use, one per blog post, so watch for more to come.

Note:  Safety first folks!  Wear your protective gear when you're dyeing and use a dust mask when working with the dye powders.  Use measuring, mixing and dyeing equipment that is reserved only for dyeing and keep food and drink out of the dyeing area.  Use your common sense and you'll be fine.

First, I purchase silk organza in bulk so I can cut off what I need when I want it.  It's not cheap, but it's worth it.

Next, I make up my dye solutions.  I use fibre reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Co and mix 1 tablespoon (that's a spoon that measures 15 liquid millilitres in NZ) per 2 cups of water (500 millilitres in NZ).  I know people weigh their dye powders to be more precise and get percentage solutions, but that's a bit too exacting for me).  I leave these dye solution concentrates in my studio fridge and then I can mix these together, dilute them or whatever I want to do, whenever I want.

Piggyback serendipity is what I sometimes call the technique that I'll show you today.  I often have some bits of organza already cut and just grab one when I'm dyeing my cotton fabric and do the same treatment on it.  So it's piggybacking off what I'm doing with the cotton fabric.

You'll always find a bucket of soda ash solution in a corner of my studio.  I like to leave my cotton fabrics soaking in there for at least 24 hours before I dye them.  I think it helps with 'opening' up the cotton fibres to accept the dye.  And of course, soda ash is needed as part of the chemical reaction with the fibre reactive dyes that I use.

But I don't leave my silk to soak.  Silk prefers acid rather than base solutions to preserve it's lustre, so I keep the exposure to soda ash to a minimum.  I just dunk it in the soda ash bucket and squeeze it through.

Today I was planning to do a tray dye on a metre piece of cotton.  So I accordion folded up my organza before I put it in the soda ash.  It's hard to handle and fold when it's wet, so unless you like wet silk organza sticking up all over your arms, try and fold it dry.

I fold and scrunch it into different shapes depending what I'm planning.  An accordion fold means that the colours will repeat across the length.  Then I scrunched it to fit into the tray.  If you wanted water ripples, you could pleat it up more regularly.  Or you could scrunch one area and have another area lying completely flat.  Experiment, it's part of the fun!

My cotton fabric goes on top folded into whatever shape I want and then I pour my dye solutions over.  Today I used some yellow and red to make orange, added some water to dilute then added a bit of navy for brown.  I'd pour on a bit and then add some more dye to alter the colour a bit but keep it related to the first colours.  I added turquoise, then some navy and then some more yellow and a bit of water here and there.  Now you can see where the serendipity bit of the name come from.

Press it all down so you know it's squeezed through then leave in a relatively warm place for at least four hours, and overnight if possible.

Rinse it all under cold running water until the water runs fairly clear.  I then soak the fabrics in warm water, changing the soaks every now and then, usually leaving it overnight at some point, until all the excess dye is gone.  Then separate the silk from the cotton, wash the cotton in your washing machine on hot and hand wash the silk with warm water.

Dry, press and use in whatever way you wish!  Above you can see the two finished pieces from this particular dyeing session.  Organza on the left and cotton on the right.  Silk picks up the dye very well so the colours look a little deeper on the organza, but remember you are seeing it double thickness and with a green backdrop (thanks to the recent rains for greening everything up!)

And look how that cross shape comes through the there's a little piece of inspiration....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Podcast Interview with Helen Jones - NZ Modern Quilt Guild

Helen Jones is the founder of the new chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) right here in New Zealand.  Back in November 2016, Helen asked for expressions of interest and was so pleased with the results that she went ahead with her plan and began taking official memberships in February.  (Follow the links listed at the end of this post if you'd like to sign up)

Because of NZ's small population and geographical spread, Helen intends to make the most of technology to grow the community.  They've started by holding virtual sew-ins to grow friendships and Helen has block of the month tutorials, membership swaps and lots of other great activities planned.

Helen's latest work in progress.
We discuss what modern quilting is, what makes a modern quilter and the exciting line-up of modern quilt teachers at this year's NZ Quilt Symposium.  I learn who Helen's partners in crime are (thanks Anna and Melissa!), what she thought of this year's QuiltCon show and what Helen's can't-live-without tools are.

Helen uses a Knight Agile electric desk, which she can lower to sew at and raise to cut on, all with the touch of a button:

And she loves her clever Zirkel magnetic pincushion (you should watch this video of it!).

Thanks for chatting to me Helen!

You can find more info through all the links listed, listen to the interview directly in the audio player below, or subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or any other podcast listening site.

PS If you enjoyed the show, tell a friend about it!

Instagram links:

The International Modern Quilt Guild


Download this episode (right click and save)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Art Quilt: Early Morning Fishing - A Quilt Process Post

Recently I completed a quilt that was commissioned by a previous customer.  I took lots of photos during the making, and I haven’t done a quilt process post for a while, so here goes.

The client wanted a quilt the same size as the previous quilt she had purchased, portrait in orientation and featuring a white faced heron fishing amongst bulrushes (or raupo as we call it in New Zealand).

This is the first quilt "Morning Waters at Opua"
She had particularly liked the water, transparency and reflections that had been features of the first quilt so I had to take that into account.

I ran up a rough sketch for her and she was very pleased. 

I began by marking off the correct finished size on a piece of light cotton lawn.  I was going to use a lot of silk organza and the white would be my base fabric so I wanted it as light-weight as possible to avoid building stiffness with too many thick layers.

When I started auditioning organza I realised I didn’t have quite the right colour – I wanted to be close to the colour of the water used in the first quilt.  So my next step was to dye some silk.

I found a piece of cotton that I had dye painted that would make perfect sky.  I used the edge of a foam brush and some fabric paint to paint background raupo.  

Then I began layering my silk organza pieces to get the depth I wanted in the water.

On a separate piece of white cotton, I had begun ‘building’ my heron.  I took the sketch I had made, enlarged it and used it as a pattern to fuse pieces of silk organza onto the cotton.  If you look at the photo, you can see the photocopy underneath the white cotton to help with placement of my organza pieces.   You can see I decided to lengthen the legs.  

I cut him out very carefully and then I had him in one piece so I could more easily move him around the composition.  Once I had my heron correctly placed I cut into the top layer of silk organza and inserted his leg so it appeared 'under' the water.

The raupo is made of hand dyed cotton mostly.  There’s a couple of strips of organza and I think if I did it again, I’d use more organza as it frays less when it’s fused down.  But it is more transparent so it would change the look a bit – there’s a question/experimentation idea that I could try and answer in my next heron quilt if I was looking to do a series!

The fish took several tries to get their shapes for perspective right.  The bottom left corner could have ended up as a big ‘blank’ space that drew your eye, so I needed the fish to fill in the spot and then I arranged them in a bit of a circle to hopefully draw the viewers eye around and then back up into the quilt.

Then it was on to the quilting.  I quilted the raupo and the heron down rather than appliqueing it and then quilting it as well.  I call this quiltlique ;-)

There are many different colours of thread in the water quilting.  This helps to provide texture and interest and a slight reflection of the heron and the raupo.  And then to finish it off, a binding in the same colour as the first quilt to provide cohesion.  A binding also makes it easier to control size rather than a facing.

I named the finished quilt 'Early Morning Fishing'.  I was really pleased with the final result and thankfully, so was the client.  She took it home and intends to frame it the same way as she has the first, with an un-glassed natural wooden frame, and display them either side of a big window.  She has requested a sketch for a third commission….I must be doing something right!