Ali Wilkinson

My New Sewing Room


We’ve moved house and the rental we will be in for the next 45 weeks has a formal lounge that I claimed for my sewing room. It’s quite a sunny room on the west of the house, so it gets lovely evening sun. I am so happy to have so much space and this is a good practice for working out what works and what doesn’t for my future sewing room in the house we are about to build.

The entrance I mainly use is through cavity sliders from the main living area, through which comes even more sunshine from the north facing double height windows in the living. The door on the left of the above photo is through to the hallway, and the glass bi-folding doors on the right go out to a paved garden. I expect they will be open or ajar many evenings ahead.needledownnz_new_quilt_room_-2

I have pinned up one of my design walls and am enjoying the indirect sunlight onto this wall. I have my iMac and printer close by so I can listen to podcasts and check blogs and print patterns. The baskets below the design wall contain batting and interfacing.


I have an ironing board for easy pressing, and in the corner is a stack of poufs and quilts that Golden Child has taken to using when she comes into the room to watch her TV shows.

Along the far wall are cupboards that run the width of the room and were here when we moved in. They have been very handy for storing my boxes of fabric and keeping them out of the sunlight.


In the centre of the room are my two tables. I bought these tables from Ikea when we lived in Moscow and they have travelled to many places with me since. They were super cheap but they are so sturdy and there is no wobble when my sewing machine is running full tilt. The higher one is for cutting and working out layouts and the lower one for sewing. On the shelf under the cutting table I store boxes which contain my WIP projects. I have similar boxes just underneath the fixed wall cupboards containing other fabric and spare bits of batting and interfacing.

I am quite happy with the tables in the centre of the room, and for safety I have the electric cords inside a safety strip across the carpet.

I love this room and am so happy that my sewing room is accessible and pleasant. I’ve been in there sewing many evenings after dinner, and I can keep up with my dreadful reality TV addiction without bugging Gary who is just the other side of the sliding doors watching his preferred Gold Rush or Gas Monkey Garage.

Ali Wilkinson

Long Time Gone BOM Catch Up

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When I returned from holiday there were two months’ of BOM packages awaiting me. I used the Stitch Sisters Retreat as a good opportunity to catch up, although the BOMs for months 5 and 6 were fiddly and involved lots of cutting and stitching.

The variation of the Around the World block has tiny pieces that finish at 1″ square. The cutting took a long time just to start with, and then sewing was not super straightforward as I found when I chain pieced the first version and discovered my cunning arrangement and planning had not been so cunning after all and resulted in much use of my seam ripper.

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Above is the Jen Kingwell BOM fabric version (before chain piecing fiasco), and below once sewn and pressed. It’s pretty cute and definitely worth the 2+ hours of cutting and assembly!

needledownnz_long_time_gone_3_-1I then made the Liberty version and was quite nervous about ensuring these many small pieces worked well together and didn’t create a big blur of ill defined “vomit”. Do you find that too, that Liberty fabrics need careful consideration of colour, value AND scale of pattern when combined?

Anyway, I am quite pleased with the Liberty result:

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The second Long Time Gone BOM block was quite a complex large block (about 12″ x 18″ finished) using interlocking plus signs and a sawtooth star. Jen’s fabric selection did not include any low volume fabrics and so I felt quite nervous, once again, about ensuring the fabrics worked well together and didn’t install nausea in all who viewed them.


Above is the Jen Kingwell fabric selection version. And below is my Liberty version:


So what do you think?

Ali Wilkinson

Long Time Gone

It has been a while. In fact, I just checked and I haven’t blogged since mid June. But I promise I have good excuses! I went on holiday for a month, I had the flu, I went on Retreat, and I moved house. Does that excuse me?

Regular readers will know we’ve been planning a new build for some time, and finally the Game Is On! We went on holiday to our place in France for almost a month and when we returned our builder put the pressure on for us to find a rental, move out and get the site clear. So we found a house to rent and moved, getting the last of our things here this past weekend.

The best thing about the rental house is that I get a decent sized room just for my sewing activities! And it has satellite TV and heaps of space and storage! A future post is definitely going to be about that.

In sad news we had to say goodbye to our beloved cat ten days ago. Kuching has been a much loved part of our family for 16 years but his kidneys were failing rapidly and the kindest thing was to allow him to go peacefully. Golden Child considers Kuching to be her “big brother” so this has been particularly hard on her. Whenever I was sewing Kuching hung out with me in my tiny sewing room. He lay on a shelf below my cutting table where he got full sun from the glass door behind him which also provided him views across part of the garden, or his kingdom as we referred to it. Many times he would curl up underneath my sewing table on top of boxes of fabric and right by my knees, but his biggest trick was to settle onto my sewing stool each time I got up to iron or cut the next section, resulting in me relocating him each time.

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Kuching loved this horrid black polar fleece blanket that Golden Child also adores so much. he was also a discerning quilt judge. I miss him immensely.

So what have I been up to the past few months?

Well, whilst in France I discovered a very cool fabric store in the town closest to our house. The store is called Les Tissus de Gaëlle and she has a Facebook page. I don’t have a sewing machine over there although my mum has promised me an old Singer of Gran’s. My Gran dies in 1981 so it is pretty old, but I am sure it will be perfect for small projects in the future. Gaëlle in the meantime satisfied my desire for fabric and I bought lots of metres of her pretty bias tape in all kinds of patterns. I will post pics once I download them.

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Despite all the house shifting and other stuff I still managed to do some sewing recently. My quilting group, the Stitch Sisters, went on retreat to Living Springs and I took the opportunity to add another ring to the Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids Medallion. This ring is a checkerboard using the pinks and purples of the range which I tried to blend together to be lighter in the centre and darker at the corners in a manner that is not ombre but retains the look of “weight” in the corners that I am trying to achieve in eau ring.

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The next ring is going to be teal blues and at this point I am thinking it will be pinwheels made to look like spinning bowties. I am still doing the maths and designing this ring, so plans could still change!


Ali Wilkinson

Liberty Crocs and other random stuff

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Ever since I went to Japan last year and discovered Uniqlo I have been lusting over their limited editions at super cheap prices on their website. They don’t have stores here nor deliver to NZ so I only get to stock up when I am overseas. Recently I saw that they had a limited range in collaboration with Liberty, and coincidentally the Golden Child was about to visit her best friend who moved to Melbourne, and so with beating heart I ordered from their Aussie store and arranged delivery to our friends.

I’ve had to wait a few weeks to get my hands on these lovely items, but they were very worth the wait. I got a few T-shirts, a tote bag and these “Room Shoes”, which is the Japanese term for slippers. In my haste I didn’t realise I ordered large, so I do resemble Minnie Mouse when I wear them.

My bubble burst, however, when Gary saw them and asked if they were Crocs….. Seriously, he did.

I’ve been busy assembling EPP Liberty hexies to make another cushion and I am almost done with the EPP side of things. No photos as yet, but trust me, it’s yummy!

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Next weekend I have a baby shower to attend so when I saw this bear fabric at Stitchbird on a recent trip to Wellington I knew it would make a perfect Noodlehead Divided Basket. Shame I didn’t have my pattern with me as I didn’t quite buy enough to make the outer pocket, which would have been pretty handy on this. I plan to fill it with nappy cream, wipes and teensy newborn nappies, plus a little pamper treat for the new mama. Hope she likes it!

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Ali Wilkinson

Cracking the WIP

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In my silence of the pat week or so I have been busy attacking a few WIPs and moving them into finished status. I have also had a DREAMi moment or two. That word, DREAMi, comes from another blog I read, MMMQuilts from Sandra Walker. It means drop everything and make it, and it perfectly sums up a phenomenon that afflicts me far too often!

My DREAMi moment was to make this little pot using hand piecing techniques and a pattern by Amber Crawley which I bought from Craftsy. It very cleverly uses stiff fusible interfacing and a standard EPP process to make the base and lid of the box, and the EPP approach allows for super precise fitting of the rims to the top and bottom of each section, and then for the inside lining to snuggly fit with no slackness and no tightness. It was a very satisfying make for the early winter nights in front of the fire. Here’s the finished product:

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Which I am using to store my curved basting pins:

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Fabric used is Anna Maria Horner Folk Song (exterior) and True Colours (lining). Amber made a hexagon box version too which I might make in coming months. Each pattern has two sizes and I made the smaller one.

Project #2 was converting these Liberty hexies into a cushion. I bought these during a trip to Liberty two years ago with no specific project in mind, just because they were so cute and delicious. I used EPP to turn them into a square which then hung on my design wall for the best part of a year and suddenly I had the idea of framing them, then turning that larger square into a cushion cover.

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I framed it in Kona Slate, a slate-grey blue, then fused some batting to the back for a little loft. Using variegated Aurefil I did a few waves lines as quilting to hold the batting to the outer, then sewed all this to two pieces of Liberty yardage.

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I had a big New To Me moment when I created two buttonholes in one of these backing pieces – I have never used the button hole thingy on my Husqvarna before, but it was SOOOOOOO easy! The manual (for once) was clear and helpful, and now I know how easy it is I sense I will be putting buttonholes on everything!

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I’ll take this to our holiday home in July and hope to make another to match from the second pack of Liberty hexies I still have ready.

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Projet #3 will hopefully save me from burning my hands again when retrieving food from the oven. I am notorious in my family for having little burns on my wrists and thumbs, and this week when my threadbare Cath Kidtson oven glove gave up the ghost and resulted in burned finger tips, I decided it was time I got my act together and made a new glove.

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I used more of the Cloud 9 Koi fabric, which is an upholstery weight, so perfect for a hard wearing utility item. The batting is Insulbright, so hopefully no more burns for me! This was such an easy make and took an hour and half all up. Here are quick instructions:

  1. Cut two large rectangles 35″ x 8″ and four smaller squares 8″ x 8″ of the chosen fabric, plus a piece of Insulbright or batting 35″ x 8″ and two more 8″ x 8″. You’ll also need about 2 yards of bias tape.
  2. Round the four corners of the rectangles and two corners of each of the squares.
  3. Place a rectangle right side down, followed by Insulbright, then the second rectangle right side up. Baste together 1/8″ from the edge.
  4. Repeat step 2 for each of the squares.
  5. Attach bias tape to the straight edges of the squares.
  6. Place the squares at each end of the rectangle, rounded corners together and baste again.
  7. Attach bias tape around the edge using a quilting binding method to join the ends.

I hang mine over the handle of my oven, but if you hang yours on a hook you will need to sew a loop for hanging.

I didn’t complete any further WIPs but I did make the Liberty version of the Long Time Gone BOM block #3 which I am quite pleased with and I sorted out the 1/4″ foot so this one is not wonky like the last one I did!
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So that’s been my progress the past few weeks. With winter upon us and no heating in my sewing room, I sense much more hand work in front of the fire will be taking place!