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

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

Long Time Gone #1

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I signed up for Jen Kingwell’s BOM called Long Time Gone and, after what felt like forever, the first parcel arrived. I had forgotten I had put the delivery address as my office, so on Tuesday when the parcel arrived I found it a bit hard to stay motivated and not whip home right away to make the block!

The Bom comes with fabric and this month there were 9 low volume background pieces and 9 prints. The sizes of each piece of fabric was about 12″ x 10″ and there was a note that we will need to cut sparingly as fabrics will be reused in later months. I have set up a storage box dedicated to this project and all scraps will be put in there. I tend to do this for every project I have on the go and only once the quilt is bound do I gather the scraps and decide what to do with them – either add to the scrap basket or sew them together to make panels of fabric for use in making pouches or hot water bottle covers or other small projects at a later date.

Each of these blocks measures 10″ square. I think I mentioned that I was also going to make a Liberty/low volume version of this quilt at the same time, so I have done a pull from my extensive (and untouched – yikes!) stash of Liberty deliciousness, and also from my equally large and untouched stash of low volumes. Here’s the selection:

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If you read my Gypsy Wife posts you will know that I have previously had issues with Jen’s pattern accuracy, but I am happy to report that this month the instructions were very clear and the measurements very precise. I think the advantage here is that Jen has designed this specifically for rotary cutting and machine construction, and so the pattern fits well. Hurrah!

And in other news, I achieved a few firsts this week that had not been on my list of things to do. Firstly on Thursday I managed to sew my finger with my machine. I have always wondered how on earth people do this, well now I know! Luckily only one downward motion, no blood, and missed my nail. Second unintended first was slicing my finger with my rotary cutter. My excuse? It was very hot (upper 30s C) and I was thinking about the next step while doing the cutting and so I swiped my left pinkie finger across the blade as I cut right to left with my right hand. Doh! And it hurt! And boy did it bleed! I felt bone with the blade, which struck about 3/8″ from the tip. I ran to the kitchen and stuck it under cold water and my husband ran in to help. He was trying to find the butterfly plasters we know we have, but ended up going out to his workshop for his first aid kit, during which time I fainted, probably through the shock of it all and the cold water contrast to the heat around us! He came in, found me on the floor, completed the bandaging of my finger and stuck my head between my knees. And you know what? It’s actually Gary who can’t cope with blood! LOL. So now I am sporting a rather fetching ensemble of Hello Kitty and Cars Band Aids as his workshop kit also didn’t have butterfly plasters. I sense a trip to the pharmacy is in order.

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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

Swimming in Tidal Pools

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One of my favourite quilty bloggers called out for testers recently and I volunteered because I am always game for trying things out. Molli Sparkles has created a block he calls Tidal Pools and I selected the above fabrics for my version. I chose the grey Carolyn Friedlanders Botanics print as it reminded me of the hurricane that at the time I made the block was about to make landfall in Mexico and had been omnipresent on the news media that day. But I wanted things to be a bit positive too, and so I chose the Pearl Bracelets in a sunny yellow to represent the sunshine after the storm, with the little pearls being droplets of ran remaining.

Gosh, this all sounds very arty-farty, doesn’t it?!

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Here’s my finished block. And if you are keen, here’s Molli’s pattern published today, including a variation for people who like to make things that little bit more challenging/interesting.

It’s a cute block, and I am now very inspired by the yellow and grey to make more items in those colours.

In other news, I finished my first review of the three books which arrived this week and they are all fabulous and will be the subject of further posts in the future. I will be up before the crack of dawn tomorrow to watch the All Blacks take on the Wallabies in the rugby world cup final. I am getting quite stressed about the whole thing, which amuses my kiwi-born husband as I have only been a kiwi for 12 years! Go the All Blacks! (PS my favourite joke of this tournament – what do you get when you take the ABs out of the Wallabies? A bunch of Wallies!! Love it!)