Ali Wilkinson

2015 Finish Along – the Final Reckoning


Well, I started with a hiss and a roar and by the end of the year I had been distracted elsewhere, which I guess is normal for creative types!

Quarters 1 and 3 were particularly productive, and quarter 2 less so largely due to a big work commitment, but also as I seem to recall I found lots of non-list things to make. Quarter 4 has seen me get tied up in procrastinating about abandoning one project and distracted again by non-list projects.

I think this is probably normal and I am certainly not beating myself up about it. I remind myself that this list is also a means of me keeping track of projects I have purchased specific fabric or patterns for and that really, really pressed my buttons. It is unrealistic to expect to finish everything, and I worked on the basis of keeping the list long so that I would have choice if I became bored with one or more projects.

So will I do a Finish Along again in 2016? Absolutely, yes! I like the reminder list – it keeps me honest and prompts me about the various kits I have purchased and forgotten about. It acts as a place where I can make note of designs or ideas that are more solid than just a notion and that I have fully thought about and intend to make. In other words, once an idea makes it to the list it is more than just a passing fancy. This list is a useful tool for me, but I do think that I need to create categories within it – certain projects yet to be started, WIPs, small gap-filler projects, longer term would love to make projects.

I have ordered the Quilter’s Planner which I think will be a better alternative to the plain notebook I use at the moment. I’m going to carry this around and make notes and jot down ideas and maybe even put fabric swatches in it! So I will report back on how that all goes. In the meantime, here’s the end result of this year’s Finish Along:
2015 sewing project checklist


Ali Wilkinson

Earning my Merit Badge


Sew Mama Sew is running a series of blog posts aimed at teaching sewing techniques. The idea is to teach a friend the techniques, though I have found it really interesting myself despite being a sort-of experienced sewist! There are Merit Badges to be earned each week as a different technique is showcased and this week it is Garment Sewing and I earned my badge!

In fact, I ticked off quite a few things – a finish for the Finish Along, and sewing with voile, French seams and making clothes which all featured on my Quilty Bucket List. I am feeling quietly satisfied with my achievement.

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I made my Amy Butler sun halter dress. I used both an Amy Butler pattern and Amy Butler voile. The voile is like butter, it’s so soft and delicious, lovely to work with and has such a wonderful hand. I lined the front (as per pattern instructions) using a lightweight satin in a nude tone, and I made a double of the necktie to use as a belt.

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The style is very simple, which made for a very easy first garment project. I did not make a muslin, which seems to be the hot tip when making clothing, as I thought the lack of tailoring would make this quite failsafe. However, I did end up altering it quite a lot mid way through assembly despite using the absolute measurements recommended for my own measurements. I took it in 1″ each side at the point where the halter front meets the back, and between 2-4″ the rest of the way down the length at each side. That was a lot of extra fabric removed and it could be simply that I don’t like such fullness without tailoring to add the flattering factor. I also raised the hem about 2″ to accommodate my short legs!

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The pattern does not give instructions for French seams so I found a tutorial online and my conclusion is that they are deceptively simple and give a really neat finish. It just took a bit of thinking about as to where to place the lining (for the initial seam – in a layer where back of dress has right die down, laid on top is the lining right side also down, and finally front of dress with right side up; for the second seam – right sides of front and lining together).

I can see this dress being quite handy this summer and especially on our beach holiday. I also think I will make another dress, a modification of the dress but as a top with a halter back, and a further modification as a top with the same front and back. I have some more Amy Butler and some Anna Maria Horner voile, and I think it will be quite good in Liberty lawn too.

It feels good to have accomplished making a dress, and one that I like. Now I think I might be on a roll making more than just this dress!

Ali Wilkinson

Off The Grid


Two weeks ago I got my iPad version of the latest Love Patchwork and Quilting. If you haven’t discovered this magazine then you MUST go out and seek it as you will be very pleased that you made the effort to do so! It’s a UK publication but as Apple offers it through their Newsstand it is available to all us global quilters in the electronic format. I have a subscription and can honestly say that in every issue I find at least one idea I am inspired by.

The above photo is a screenshot of the Off The Grid quilt designed by the Edinburgh Modern Quilt Guild. Isn’t it fabulously retro yet modern? Especially with that Eames reproduction chair in the foreground….

If you have read recent posts you will know that my best intentions with the Oakshott purples and blues shot cottons did not go according to my imagination nor plans and that I abandoned the modern  crosses quilt I had intended to make. In fact, I was starting to feel quite down in the dumps about the whole FQ bundle searching for inspiration when I came across this quilt pattern again at the weekend. I had made a note to make the quilt in the future, I just hadn’t connected the dots between the pattern and the fabric bundle until yesterday.


When I got home from work tonight I hustled to my sewing room and starting cutting strips as per the instructions. It’s an improvisational design so the instructions are simply to cut strips of random widths between X and Y and then to assemble blocks from them. The pattern provides a “recipe” for the required number of blocks of several different sizes, and then gives instructions for assembly. It’s a good formula as it really allows the quilter to add a huge amount of personalisation into the mix in addition to the selection of fabrics.

I have made four blocks so far of the 48 total required and I really like the method and the results I am getting. Apologies for the colour quality of the photo which was taken in bad light using my iPhone instead of the usual DSLR.

I plan on using the 12 or so Oakshott fabrics for the coloured improv squares and then a Kona grey for the background – perhaps silver, smoke or shadow. The finished quilt is destined to be 64″ x 74″ although I might make it square out at 74″ x 74″.

So, first cab off the rank for the Q4 of the 2015 Finish Along!

Ali Wilkinson

Shimmer Feathers

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Once again Suzet Pont has worked her long arm magic and really made this quilt special. She has quilted simple curly feathers on each side of the quill in the feathers themselves, and a swirly “cake frosting” meander in the white background. The simple outline of the feathers adds emphasis and really makes them pop.

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I bound it in the same Oakshott brown that I used for the quills.

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The backing is a map of Paris by 3 Sisters at Moda.

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This sophisticated lap quilt will now reside in the formal lounge where I think it will sit nicely with the antique Chinese furniture.

Ali Wilkinson

2015 Finish Along Q3 Status


Regular readers, or those observant of my buttons on the right, will be aware that this year I have been participating in Adrienne’s 2015 Finish Along programme. It’s been a great motivator to just get the last bits finished on a whole lot of different projects. Binding is my least favourite activity and so this programme makes me just get on with it and do the binding!

Q3 has been quite productive for me, as illustrated by this table of finishes:
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Strictly speaking the Shimmer Feathers still has about 2 yards of binding still to be sewn down but that will be completed tonight and photos shared in the coming days. I’m pretty pleased with my capacity for creativity the past few months, especially with all that’s going on with work and the deterrent created by winter for spending too much evening time in my sewing room (as it’s the only room in the house without heating).

My To Do list for the coming quarter is long, as usual, and is far bigger than the actual number of projects I expect to achieve. I do this to keep myself honest about the projects I truly think I will complete, and also to give me some wriggle room in case I get in the mood to make home decor rather than quilts, or vice versa. So here is the list:

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The observant reader will see that Jen Kingwell’s Green Tea and Sweet Beans has been dropped off the list. I have had a moment of honesty and decided that I can’t ever see myself finishing that project as it is just no longer inspiring. I am contemplating using the blocks completed to date, and the fabric (which is quite 1930s) to make a sort-of Farmer’s Wife sampler quilt. I say “sort-of” as I won’t follow it exactly and will simply take inspiration from the Farmer’s Wife quilt and from the gazillions of versions being made in the upcoming Quilty Blogland quilt-along. Anyway, I am not so certain about this that I am adding it to the To Do list and I will let the idea percolate a bit more before doing so.