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

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?

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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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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