Ali Wilkinson

The Mandatory 2016 Review and 2017 Plans Post

Golden Child and I spent a good half hour drawing the above message in the sand and then photographing or filming as the tide came in. We were on the beach near Galle in Sri Lanka and were watching the stilt fishermen as the sun set beautifully over the ocean. Golden Child had a “perfect shot” in mind and the waves did not comply a lot of the time, coming slightly to one side or the other and not erasing the 2016 in the way she envisaged. It was a lesson in accepting what nature provides and taking joy from the beauty around. As I type these words I feel quite wistful for that trip and have a deep longing to return. Soon.

But on to quilty things…

As is the way at this time of year I reviewed my quilty goals list from this time last year to see how I fared. Here is the post where I articulated those goals. So how did I do?

  • Finish the In-Flight quilt. DONE although at this stage it is still a finished flimsy as it awaits quilting, so I guess quilting it goes on the 2017 list
  • Sew a medallion quilt. Still in progress. I feel ashamed to say that I have not moved on since August due to other commitments, but I have definite plans to complete this quilt in 2017
  • Sew a few queen sized bed quilts for our holiday home. DONE. I made this one and the In Flight quilt will also head there when complete
  • Complete the Mighty Lucky monthly projects. No progress at all! I was super disappointed by this subscription series and found the projects to be not at all as expected. I think if you are someone who likes art journals as a way of developing your arty side then this would appeal, but I found it a bit too art school for my taste. So I pretty much ignored it from July onwards
  • Complete the Tula Pink Marquise EPP quilt. I’ve done the first row of diamonds. I think this is going to be a long term project that lasts several years…. I’m enjoying it when I want to do a hand project, but in the meantime have lots of other stuff on the cutting table!
  • Do more clothes making. I haven’t made any clothes for me but I have made a crazy complex costume for the Golden Child! Does that count?
  • Make a few pouches. DONE see here and here and here
  • Make a quilt from the Alison Glass fabrics. Zero progress and I don’t even have a pattern in mind either. This is moving to the 2017 list
  • Long Time Gone BOM quilt. I am almost up to date with the BOMs and there are two more months to go before assembly. I feel that this should count as an achievement as I am making it in duplicate with the Liberty edition as well as the original version
  • Use my stash. Sort of done. I have not bought much fabric the past 12 months so I feel like this should be marked achieved. It was only the Loominous 2 range that stole my heart and forced a full fat 1/4 bundle purchase! (This year I have to make a quilt with that bundle!)

I also made a number of things that were not on the schedule, such as a few Noodlehead divided baskets for me and for gifts, and a few paper-pieced cushions using Tartankiwi’s dog patterns.


So where to for 2017?

I’d like to get In-flight quilted and am just waiting for my friend Suzet to have her long arm machine set up and a vacancy in her schedule!

I’d like to finish the medallion quilt I am making using Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids. Here’s where I am up to so far with plans on making 3 further rings:

I will finish the Long Time Gone quilts. Here’s a reminder of what the end result is set to look like:

I have the blocks using flying geese to make this month, and then there remain the pineapple blocks (I am dreading those!) and the checkerboard blocks followed by assembly. I can’t wait to have these completed and quilted.

I’d like to make this summer dress and have bought the necessary fabric and notions. I haven’t made a dress for myself for a long time so this will be fun! It’s a Vogue pattern (number V1344) designed by a Kiwi, Rebecca Taylor:

I’d like to make a version of Kaffe Fassett’s Haze Kilim quilt. I bought the pattern and fabric and now just need to get some of the other WIPs off the cutting board to make room for this. It reminds me of the fabrics I saw and bought in Sri Lanka, so I plan on using a sari for the backing when I finally make it!

I will continue with the Tula Marquise hand project and would like to make a few more fabric boxes and baskets, and no doubt I will find other projects to fit in here and there as inspiration hits! I plan on continuing my purchasing freeze and sewing from my stash, although with a trip to the US planned for July that resolution might face challenges!

So what have you decided to have as your sewing goals of this year? How did you go on in 2016?

Ali Wilkinson

Long Time Gone and Catching Up

Happy new year! I wish you good health, rewarding challenges, friendship and prosperity. This is going to be a very interesting year politically and economically, no matter where you live, and I plan on not sweating the small stuff, trying to see the bigger picture, and getting vocal about things that I feel strongly about! In the next few days I will share my quilty plans.

We had a quiet family Christmas and New Year. It will be our last family Christmas for a while as next year the Golden Child will be in Spain on an AFS exchange for 10 months and so we cocooned together  and enjoyed how quiet Christchurch gets at this time of year (everyone else goes on holiday, whereas we holiday in July and September).

I took the opportunity to catch up on my sewing. Travel and production costume commitments the past few months have meant that I was getting quite a stockpile of Long Time Gone BOM packages to make up. Given I am also making this quilt in Liberty too, the three packages really translated to 6 packages, and these recent months have several blocks for completion. I think Jen Kingwell has suddenly realised that only 2 more months remain, one of which is more than likely going to be assembly, and the first two or three months were so lightweight with smallish blocks that now we are playing catch up. It seems a bit like school holidays where the first few weeks seem like there is forever to do everything that needs to be done, and then all of a sudden there’s a week left and nothing on the list has been accomplished!

Month 7 was churn dash blocks in grids. These are not my favourite blocks and so I was really unenthused about making them, and each churn dash was so small (3″ finished) that they were quite fiddly too. I didn’t photograph the ones I made with the fabric from the BOM but they are typical Jen style of lots of fabrics with different designs on them which when jumbled together actually look quite fun. I have to say that many of the provided fabrics are quite garish and I would not normally even glance sideways at them, so it is quite fun to see how cool they look in tiny pieces with other fabrics.

When making my Liberty edition I remembered an earlier month which ended up looking like scrap vomit due to a proliferation of competing patterns and I had to remake with more neutrals in the mix. This time I decided to use lots of neutrals from the beginning and I am very happy with the results.

Month 8 was all about Courthouse Steps and Log Cabins. Each block above is under 6″ finished and they are fiddly strips. I do not know why but the centres seem to twist a little. I noticed it when I made the first edition and really worked hard to correct or prevent it in the second, but I still have that little twist going on. I’d love to know what I am doing wrong and how to prevent this in future!

My log cabins also have a teensy twist in some places and I do wonder if there is an issue with my 1/4″ foot (maybe the side guide is a little bent?). I was worried this block in Liberty would be overpowering, so spent a long time selecting the fabrics to go together and next to each other. I’m pretty happy with the end result and think it will be a nice colour saturated spot in the finished quilt.

Month 9 involved making 130 HSTs of patterned fabric and neutral fabric. I love making HSTs – I get into a rhythm and it’s almost meditative. This time I was watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix….! (I’m up to S2 episode 18). Above and the next two images are the provided fabric editions which look nice and bright as I took the photos with flash.

And here are the Liberty editions (without flash photography):

I have month 10 still awaiting action and that is focused on flying geese. I’m back to work tomorrow so that will have to hold off til the weekend.

I am still enjoying this quilt, though have a stack of excess fabric from the kit edition. I have no idea what I will do with that so suggestions welcome! Usually I make a pieced back but I don’t really love a lot of the fabric that has been used (except as tiny pieces as mentioned above) so don’t plan on doing that this time. I had thought I could sell it as a job lot for someone keen to make this quilt and who has bought the pattern and wants to recreate a lot of the Jen Kingwell look. What do you think of that idea? And where would I sell it?

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

Getting Cross with a Medallion

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When I was ready to make the next ring for the medallion I realised I had bought a slightly different shade of pale turquoise than I had used in the exploding star at the centre. This presented a bit of a dilemma – do I proceed knowing the colours were not the same but were so close it could look like a mistake, or should I reorder more of the correct colour. Or least acceptable of all, do I remake the exploding star with the newly arrived fabric.

The latter was eliminated before I even considered it. I don’t mind a small amount of unpicking, but an entire block is just too much for me! I decided to press ahead with the fabric I had to hand and to check what I thought after I had made a few crosses. Even after making a couple of crosses I was not too convinced it would look OK, but I think that was compounded by my struggles with how to actually make these crosses.

At first I used home-made paper piecing templates, but as I had hand drawn these they were not as successful as I had hoped. Next up I tried making oversized corner blocks and trimming them to size but that was a bigger disaster. In the end I went back to the old tried and tested method similar to making snowballs for each of the “legs” of the cross and then sewing these legs together. So having wasted a few hours mulling over fabric and methods, I chain pieced like a mad woman and rattled off the 16 crosses for this next ring.

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I am so pleased with the outcome and now I see them all completed I don’t think the slight difference in colour is a problem and in fact looks quite deliberate. The emphasised corners will be a theme for this quilt and I intend them to be either darker or larger or otherwise slightly different to the rest of the ring.

The next ring is going to be flying geese in these coral colours, with the darker shade in the corners as diamonds (square in square):

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I have also been a bit busy making a wall hanging organiser for my sewing room using the free pattern on Svetlana’s website. I have an ever increasing collection of plastic templates that I used to corral in the piano stool I use for sewing but the stool is stuffed full of patterns and I prefer to have the templates closer to hand. I am hoping this will do the trick and I think I will make a second narrower one for the quilting rulers I have.

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I used Cotton and Steel’s Tokyo Train Ride fabrics in my two favourite prints, and backed it with some Kona paprika solid. Svetlana uses Soft n Stable By Annie for the pockets and the entire backing but I wanted a little more rigidity so I replaced this in the backing with Peltex (Pellon 72F). It has been quite a success and I will definitely use it again. All that remains is the addition of the hanging grommets in the top corners and for that I will need to buy a grommet fixer – perhaps that will be my mothers’ day present tomorrow…!

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