Ali Wilkinson

Building the Medallion

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My parcel of Cirrus Solids arrived last week together with a colour swatch card so I spent a happy few hours working out exactly which colours will be used in which concentric ring for my medallion quilt. Naturally another order was placed….

I needed to make the centre exploding star bigger and get it to 18″ finished. I had considered enlarging it and making a new one, but these penny candy blocks kept coming into my mind. I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to be at staggered distances out, to accentuate the exploding star, but after a few aborted attempts I realised that was just going to be very tricky and time consuming. Then, the lightbulb moment of constructing them in a long row then splicing the candy strip in between two plain strips. So simple, so quick, how come it took me ages to work that one out?!

I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, and the emphasis on the larger candy on the corners is a feature I will have in a few of the future rings.

I’ve drawn up my ideas and the colours of Cirrus Solids I will use for each ring, so now to await the next consignment’s arrival so I can make ring #1.

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Ali Wilkinson

Starting the Medallion


Making a medallion quilt has been on my mind for a while now and the saga of the badly cut Kaffe stripes pushed me into action.

I have been inspired by this one that I found on the net one day. I like the white space and the simple colours and blocks. To hand I had a FQ bundle of Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids that I thought had the right amount of colour pop and duskiness combined and so I started to plan.

The exploding star block will be my centre, surrounded by (in no order) diagonal crosses, flying geese, hourglasses, checkerboards, penny candy and half stars. All quite geometric. Each ring will be in a different colour; yellow/amber, purple/pink, coral/brick, navy/blue, turquoise/teal. The background will be a putty colour.

With FQs I don’t have anywhere near enough fabric so I hopped onto Hawthorne Threads and ordered more. Now is the annoying part of having to order from overseas and the wait until the parcel arrives!

I have made the centre block. I made it at 12″ and now I have a slight dilemma as the next ring is 6″ wide and needs to end up at 30″ finished, meaning the centre block needs to be 18″. I can either make it again at 18″, or add a “mini ring” of 3″ all the way around to add onto this block. The ring of 3″ could be plain background, but I think that will make the centre block look a bit detached from the rest of the quilt, or I also thought I could do little penny candy 1″ dots all the way round in a way that makes it look like the star is exploding. Of course I put my dilemma out to my sewing group via Facebook and a wise member has suggested I make the bigger one and add penny candy to this one and then compare the two, making a pillow out of the one I don’t use. So that is the way I will go. Once my order arrives….

Ali Wilkinson

In-flight Almost Complete

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This last weekend I finished the last two blocks for In-flight; a duck and an eagle.

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The eagle is a super huge 24″ square and has some pretty big pieces of fabric involved. It took a whole FQ of the green solid Kona with tiny scrappy bits left over. I am not a fan of making large paper piecing blocks, in particular when one of the sections of the block was almost half of the finished block, like the square cut off centre into triangles. That was very tricky to work with. I have a few tricks when making large sections or sections with large pieces of fabric in them – I stick completed parts down with glue stick and use pins to hold the loose fabric I am adding onto the already sewed pieces underneath. Even with these tricks I still ended up with some pieces wrinkling underneath necessitating use of the seam ripper a little more than I would have liked.

So now I have all the blocks made I laid out my spare design wall onto the floor and placed onto it the completed blocks in a random arrangement. I filled the gaps with spare pieces of the background fabric. I stood on the sofa and took photos, which was really useful in terms of seeing the colour distribution and fixing and imbalances.

Here is the end layout which I will now sew together ready for long arming:

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I have backing fabric already picked. I will be using the Tula Pink Freewill wideback in navy with Tula Pink Labyrinth in sprout at the edges as a feature. Now just hoping Suzet Pont can fit it into her long arm schedule in time for me to take it to our holiday home in July.

Ali Wilkinson

Buzzards in Invisibility Cloaks

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This is how Tropical Cabins finished up. It’s the first time I have ever made a quilt with such a large amount of negative space, and I like it but still think it needs to grow more on me. I like the off-centre setting for the cabins blocks, and really this photo doesn’t do the colours justice as I took it in full sun at lunchtime and was in a hurry, so apologies for the photo quality.

This weekend I made two more blocks from In-flight; the buzzard and the kestrel. Before I start to sew sections together I set them out to ensure that I didn’t make any mistakes, this is a step I have learned to do following a very time consuming error one time in the past. Luckily I did that this time as I was able to see that either I had made a mistake or my buzzard was wearing an Invisibility Cloak!

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I was also able to see that I had omitted a final piece (visible in the upper left corner on the top edge).

So a quick seam ripper moment and I resolved both of those issues, sewed the sections together et voilà:

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MUCH better!

I also made the kestrel block:

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Only two more blocks to go and then I can assemble the whole top, though one of those blocks is another 24″ one and looks a wee bit complicated!

Ali Wilkinson

Shaky Islands

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It’s been a good week in the sewing studio and shopping for the studio. In Auckland I managed to squeeze in a stop at Patchwork Passion and another at All About Patchwork. In the former I bought a few Tula FQs and some French General linen that will be perfect for a table runner, and in the latter I bought a bit of Kaffe, some Cotton and Steel and some Kona Snow, which is one of my go-to basics.

I had wanted to buy a variety of Kaffe stripes to make the Haze Kilim (see an example here) but they didn’t have a large range and not the thin caterpillar stripes I was looking for. I think their recent Kaffe workshop with the man himself has seen quilters descend on the shop like locusts and snag all the Kaffe fabrics! When I got home I quickly went onto Glorious Color and bought the caterpillar stripes in blues and greens and some of the ikat in similar watery colours, so now I am hoping they will arrive before the retreat next weekend. That might be wishful thinking.

My Jen Kingwell BOM project has not arrived yet and so as I ended up with an evening and day free to sew this weekend I had to improvise. I have lots of Kate Spain Paradiso left over from my Cruces de Revolution quilt and so on Friday night when I spotted a log cabin quilt in the latest Love Patchwork and Quilting, I knew I had to make a version of it with these fabrics.

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I have modified the quilt a little as it’s way too small in the pattern and above are my planning notes (using my Quilters Planner!!). I am calling this quilt Tropical Cabins as they will be an improv log cabin using these tropical colours. There are four different blocks that make up the quilt and these are repeated and placed randomly in rotation. The blocks have differing widths of “logs” and so when set together they will be a bit jaunty. So far I have made all of Block A and cut the components for blocks B, C and D.

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Here they are placed on my design wall, not at all in the end design, but looking very pretty nonetheless. I plan on making the quilt one row shorter than the pattern (so it is square) and then surrounding the unit of blocks with white fabric,sort of off-set towards a corner of the white background. Hoping it will be quite pretty.

So if my Jen Kingwell doesn’t arrive by Friday I will be taking this to the retreat to work on alongside the paper pieced In-flight and the hand-pieced Tula Marquise.

Mid way through making these blocks, just after I had got a fresh mug of tea, we got a 5.9 quake here in Christchurch. It went on for a good while, enough that I was starting to get anxious it was becoming a bigger quake. My tea ended up all over the sewing machine (it fell from the cutting table which is higher) and all over the chain pieced blocks, which had the initial square and the first round of logs. But the kitchen and laundry were bigger messes to clear up. I think my sewing machine is OK as I was able to finish these but I am a bit concerned and will keep an eye on it longer term. Holy smokes! It’s been shaking off and on all afternoon and we do NOT need a whole new swarm of quakes just as we feel we are seeing the daylight at the end of this tunnel of recovery!

Kia kaha, readers.

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