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

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!

Ali Wilkinson

On the Design Wall

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The flamingos have landed! Oh how I love this medallion ring, those pinky corals, and the way the entire medallion is building. The Cirrus Solids are so delightful to work with and I am thrilled with the colour rate so far.

Next up is a checkerboard patterned ring using these purples and pinks:

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The pink on the right is similar but different to the pale coral from ring #2. The actual design is still brewing in my imagination, and what I know so far is that the 6″ wide ring will comprise edge to edge checkerboard of a series of nine patches all joined together, so that each coloured square will be 2″ square finished. As with previous rings I will “weight” the corners with the darker shade and I think I will mix up the three shades so they ombré to a lighter point in the centre of each side. Still thinking, so watch this space!

This last weekend I also remade the Long Time Gone month 3 blocks for my Liberty edition of the quilt. You might recall that I was a bit unsure about them when I made them last month, and the more I have thought about them, the more I have concluded that there was way too much pattern and colour clashing going on. So I remade them with the low volume backgrounds and I am much happier:

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These get trimmed down to (I think) 4″ square. The experience has made me decide to use more low volume in the Liberty edition than Jen Kingwell uses in the original edition. Month 4 block pattern and fabrics came last week and are very busy once made up (see image below), so I will definitely be including lots of low volume to add some calm for the Liberty edition.

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Making up this block I realised that although my points are mainly fine, there is a wonkiness to the block that I am not overly thrilled with and I had to do some easing to get the block to finish at the right size. I am wondering if my 1/4″ foot is a little on the generous side, so will be doing some checking and adjusting if needed before making the next block.

Ali Wilkinson

Long Time Gone Liberty Edition

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Here are the Liberty edition blocks of the Long Time Gone BOM. I confess to being a bit undecided about them. I worry that one or two (or all in combination) have a scrap vomit aura. So I think I will remain on the fence until it comes to quilt assembly and I can see what is in the same area of the quilt and how it all looks.

They get put together in the quilt in two units of three blocks set vertically, but apart from that I don’t have much else to go off. I have only two photos of the quilt, so from this I can see that one unit has low volume background fabric bars in between each block (middle left of the image) and the other (top right of the image) seems to show them set next to each other. This setting might prove critical to the overall impact and also which I put next to each other.


I would really like to have a better full picture of the quilt than the one below, or a schema of the layout, as that would help me choose colours and fabrics. I have asked and been told that more photos will be provided in due course.


While making these blocks I noticed that one of the fabrics that I had previously thought of as little dashes of colour was in fact teeny tiny horses (or similar animal)! Check this out – so cute! Those ponies remind me of the cartoon books “Thelwell” that I used to read when I was a child – if you missed out on that experience, here is the Facebook page of the Thelwell group.

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This weekend I also made a few flying geese for the next ring of the medallion. I am experimenting a little with the size of these and so far have made them in a smaller size. This version will then have two strips of background fabric either side of the geese thus setting them apart from the previous and next rings, both of which fill the entire 6″ width.

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Isn’t that coral so pretty? I used the blunt triangle method using the Fons and Porter flying geese template ruler. I used that on a previous quilt and find it to be the best for precision whilst having zero wastage. Do you have a preferred flying geese method?