Ali Wilkinson

The Quickest Potholder Ever

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I saw a blog a few weeks ago which showed a really quick and easy way to make a potholder so seeing as I still have a few large scraps of this Kate Spain Paradiso fabric left I thought I would see if it really was as quick as it appeared.

And it was! The starting point is to cut 8 hexagons – 6 will be the top, 1 the backing and the 8th will not be seen. That eight one could easily be made from Insulbright or another thermal-resistant batting, and I think my future ones will be done that way. I made my hexagons measure 10.5″ across side to side.

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I won’t give the step by step here, and instead direct you to Elise Blaha’s blog post (linked above) where she does an excellent job of instructing in words and pictures. Suffice to say up to the step shown above, all that is involved is cutting and folding. I then sewed around all six sides, turned it right side out and quilted as below. All up, maybe 20 minutes from start to finish.  Cool.

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Ali Wilkinson

More Leftovers and a Hard Decision

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I still have a lot of fabric left over from the Shimmer Feathers quilt and so I used the (next to) last piece to make this bucket. It’s 9″ tall and 7″ diameter. I used Soft n Stable as the batting which holds it up nice and strong. Probably a bit of overkill there and maybe a medium interfacing on both lining and exterior, or medium interfacing on lining and fusible fleece on exterior would have been more appropriate. Anyway, it’s cute and will be useful and uses up some of those leftovers!

The pattern was made off the cuff by me, but pretty much I cut the exterior and the lining measuring 22″ x 9.5″, sewed them into a tube and then added a circle 8″ diameter onto the bottom. The same for the lining batting (but as I say above, medium interfacing and fusible fleece would be better). Place the lining right side inside, then the exterior right side out is slipped inside, and finally the lining batting if used. I sewed them all together around the top with a 1/2″ seam and left a gap about 3″ to pull it back through and turn it all right sides in the right places. I then top stitched around the top and ladder stitched the gap I had left when joining all three together. Et voilà!

At my sewing group day at the weekend I was on a bit of a roll with the leftovers and used up some old Kaffe Fassett scraps from my Hothouse Flowers quilt to make another hot water bottle cover. This one is destined for my dear friend who lives in Moscow. (Hope she’s not reading this!) She is an art teacher and has confessed to also having a soft spot for all things Kaffe. I have more Kaffe in my scrap bag and plan on making her a few other bits and pieces of happiness. Here’s the latest hottie cover:

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I also made a hard decision after consulting with the wise sages of my quilting group. The Off the Grid quilt is just not lighting my fire or turning out as I had hoped and planned. It’s too flat, and I don’t love it, and just knowing I have it to make is actually slowing me down with my quilting. So I have decided to cut my losses at the 14 or so blocks I have completed to date and not throw good sewing after boring. I will find some way of combining the blocks already made into something useful – maybe a lap quilt or similar – and I am moving on to something that inspires me more.

The weight is gone from my shoulders and I feel liberated! Now to decide which of the wishlist projects I will do next.

Huge thanks to those of you who commented or emailed with suggestions on background fabric for the Off the Grid quilt. I really did appreciate your input and definitely think your suggestions would have been the way I went (the oval elements was the most popular).

Ali Wilkinson

Leftovers (again)

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Do you recognise this fabric and patchwork? Yep, more leftovers from the Shimmer feathers quilt that I had sewn together to make a larger piece ready for a new project. And when I saw Sara Lawson’s Filigree Double Pocket Pouch on her blog on Friday I knew what I would use it for!

Sara has surpassed herself with this pattern which is straightforward yet complex. The pattern comes in three sizes and includes instructions for adding ribbon trim, as seen on Sara’s blog. I chose to skip the ribbon as this patchwork was already quite busy.

I sewed the medium size and found the wrangling of multiple layers and a curved edge to be very manageable. I will report back when I have made a small one, which I intend to do in the coming weeks. Reading the pattern the only bit I struggled to visualise was step 22 (and 23). It took some time for me to realise that it was only the zips which were on top of each other at the sewing edge and that the layers of lining had to be offset. The following photo shows how the bottom layer is set out, and the top layer is the same but upside down so that the zips have right sides facing and touching and it’s only the zips which end up sewn together.

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Once sewn, the end on view is like this:

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It’s very important too that at this step the zipper tabs are lined up with each other so that they appear to be a single strip (front to back) when the bag is completed. (see below)


The medium sized bag uses half a fat quarter for each lining pouch and slightly more than a fat quarter  for the exterior plus a long strip for the exterior gusset. Two 12″ zips and some By Annie Soft n Stable padding and you’re good to go. Sara recommends using different coloured zips and I have to agree that is quite a nice touch (I used two shades of cream/milky coffee for mine).

The pattern is very straightforward and the photos are easy to follow (except for step 22 as noted above). I found that the gusset is quite wide at the top where it joins the end of the zipper tabs and I am contemplating adding a slender strip of fabric between the zips to make it slightly wider. I also think the pouch linings could be slightly bigger as the gusset will allow plenty of stuffing with contents.

When topstitching the outside and lining along the zip I recommend opening the zip itself so you can check you don’t catch the other linings in the seam you are sewing as I did. It’s quite a bulky seam so it’s easy not to realise all the other layers are also there!

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All up it took me about 3 hours to make, including the quilting which in itself is quite time consuming.

This is definitely a “to be recommended” pattern and I think it could be tackled by a beginner with a bit of experience.

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PS – there’s still even more of the Shimmer quilt leftovers remaining so watch this space for more projects using leftovers!

Ali Wilkinson


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Sometimes I get an idea in my head and it pesters my everyday consciousness until I scratch the itch! This bucket basket was just one of those things, especially after I had sewn together the leftovers from my Feathering my Nest quilt into useable blocks.

I made this using just one of the blocks, so there are three or four left for me to make other leftover delights. This making use of leftovers is my pet Frugal Quilting project. I have added a category over there on the right so that as we progress you can find all of my other posts that make use of leftovers. Just a disclosure for today – this is only the second such post, the hot water bottles being the first.

I used the Nesting Buckets pattern by Svetlana which I bought many months ago during an online pattern buying binge. I am pleased to say I have used 30% of the patterns I bought in that binge, which is pretty good considering I have at least 10 quilting books and have only made 2 or 3 items from them, and from the 50 or so magazines I have I have perhaps made 4 items.

The pattern calls for Decor Bond, but as my order from Amazon has not yet arrived I used Gigli instead. Gigli has to be one of the most irritating products I know! Yes, it’s great as a heavyweight interfacing, but that glue on the back is a farce and reminds me of the glue on the envelopes I bought in China in 1998 (i.e. dried up when Mao was still Chairman). My hot tip is to hold the iron on the surface and max the steam for 10 seconds then hold the iron in place for another 5 seconds. Even this is hit and miss, and that is using my PerfectCare steam generator power iron!! Anyway, forewarned is forearmed.

All up and excluding the sewing up of the scraps to make the initial block, this took about an hour and a half to make. The instructions were really clear, though I did almost miss the fact that the Gigli had to be fused to all pieces right after cutting. This is the middle sized bucket and it’s pretty large at about 9″ high, so not the teensy wee buckets that many patterns are for these days. This is going to be a really useful size and already the Golden Child has asked if I will make her a few in blacks and whites (what is it with teens these days that everything has to be all neutral shades and “interior design” in their bedrooms?! I blame Ikea myself). Second hot tip for this pattern – use stacks of Wonderclips!

Here’s the other side:

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Exterior – Jennifer Sampou Shimmer

Interior – Kona Bone

Handles – silver 1″ wide leather from Nippori in Tokyo

Thread – Aurifil 50wt in cream and a silver blue grey

Ali Wilkinson

Feathering my Nest

I’ve been working 70 hour weeks the past month whilst trying to get over a nasty cold. The two in combination are not the best. The cold seems to be gone now but the long hours will still be required for a wee while longer, so all the more reason for me to spend as much of the weekend sewing as a de-stressor and distraction!

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This is what I have been amusing myself with the last two weekends. The pattern has been on my to do list for what seems like forever since I first saw it on the cover of Love Patchwork and Quilting issue 9 and I have had it in mind to make in this Jennifer Sampou Shimmer fabric too.

The first feather required a little seam ripping until I worked out that joining the side triangles correctly required me to join them with 1/4″ dog ear overlap at the edge. (I should have recalled that from the Angled class I took with Rachel.) See this picture for an illustration:

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Once I got a rhythm going and had worked it out progress was quite quick. The pattern descriptions are quite good but I could probably have done with some additional photos as I found it hard to imagine what I was going to do when I read the pattern before starting.

I used Kona Bone as my background colour and an Oakshott shot cotton for the quills, which I will also use as the binding.

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Today has been cold and sleety, so not the most ideal for photo opportunities, so please excuse the shadow.

When I began assembly I realised that some of the tips of my feathers were a teensy bit too short. I was able to “bodgy things up” so it all worked out well, but if I made one again I would sew with very scant 1/4″ seams and not the true 1/4″ seams I usually use.

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I am delighted with the end result and will drop this off with Suzet Pont for quilting. I am tempted with a very full-on Angela Waters style.

The feathers were constructed by sewing strips of each fabric together to make a large panel, and then cutting the angled segments. Of course with this type of construction I ended up with lots of left over partial segments, which I have randomly sewn together to create large pieced blocks which I will use for another project (I am thinking a storage bucket or basket, but given how much there is I might get another hot water bottle cover too!). Watch this space for more on that!

And so, this is another project almost done for the 2015 Finish Along.