Ali Wilkinson

Another Pouch

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I knew I wanted to make this pouch from the moment I saw a sneaky peak on Svetlana’s blog when she called for testers. I volunteered but didn’t get the call so I had to wait for the pattern to be released before I could make one.

Svetlana calls it the Sophia Pouch  and it’s just that little bit more complex and sophisticated than her previous pouches as it includes an external pocket and piping.

This is the second time only that I used piping and I had to make it myself too as in NZ there does not appear to be ready made piping available in the stores. I used piping cord and bias tape and simply folded the tape lengthwise in half and set the cord in the fold before sewing it loosely to hold the cord in place.

My hot tip for piping is to baste it on the first layer away from the piping, but when adding the second layer and creating the piped seam, set the needle so it stitches only a stitch width away from being hard up against the piping, which you can feel through the top layer. This will hold the piping nice and tight whilst also giving space to fold back the fabric each side of the piping once completed.

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I fussy cut some of Tula Pink’s Eden to showcase the lovely tigers on the back. On the front the tiger is largely hidden inside the outer pocket, although part of one is showing to one side. I fussy cut the inside pocket too so that the tiger stood proud.

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I lined the pouch and outer pocket with some old Tula Pink from the Moonshine range I think, and I used Art Gallery Squared Elements for the zipper binding, lining of the inside tiger pocket and the tab on the end of the zipper (which hangs loosely inside).

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I made a slight change to the pattern by using a magnetic snap to close the outer pocket. Svetlana uses velcro in the pattern but I didn’t have any (no doubt as I am not a fan of that stuff given the way it attracts fluff in an irritating way!).

This pattern looks way more complicated than it is! The hardest thing is the piping but you get to experiment on the outer pocket edge first and as long as you are willing to unpick and restitch if you don’t sew close enough to the piping, then it’s all very straightforward.

I spotted a couple of inconsistencies in the pattern, for example the cutting instructions do not tell you to cut interfacing for the front and back of the lining, but in the pattern it does refer to them being lined with interfacing. I didn’t use interfacing on the lining except for the gusset (which it does tell you to cut interfacing for) and I am glad I did it this way. The gusset gives the structure that is needed but the lining was more pliable and easy to fit than on previous pouches where I have used interfacing on both lining and exterior.

I highly recommend this pattern, especially for people who wish to cut their teeth on piping. All up it took about 2 hours to make and is a great way to use up large scraps.

I used fabrics from Tula Pink Eden (exterior), Tula Pink Moonshine (lining), Art Gallery Squared Elements (binding and inside pocket lining) and Art Gallery Emmy Grace houses by Bari J (exterior pocket), a magnetic snap (14mm), a burgundy 12″ zip, piping cord and burgundy bias tape.

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

Earning my Merit Badge


Sew Mama Sew is running a series of blog posts aimed at teaching sewing techniques. The idea is to teach a friend the techniques, though I have found it really interesting myself despite being a sort-of experienced sewist! There are Merit Badges to be earned each week as a different technique is showcased and this week it is Garment Sewing and I earned my badge!

In fact, I ticked off quite a few things – a finish for the Finish Along, and sewing with voile, French seams and making clothes which all featured on my Quilty Bucket List. I am feeling quietly satisfied with my achievement.

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I made my Amy Butler sun halter dress. I used both an Amy Butler pattern and Amy Butler voile. The voile is like butter, it’s so soft and delicious, lovely to work with and has such a wonderful hand. I lined the front (as per pattern instructions) using a lightweight satin in a nude tone, and I made a double of the necktie to use as a belt.

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The style is very simple, which made for a very easy first garment project. I did not make a muslin, which seems to be the hot tip when making clothing, as I thought the lack of tailoring would make this quite failsafe. However, I did end up altering it quite a lot mid way through assembly despite using the absolute measurements recommended for my own measurements. I took it in 1″ each side at the point where the halter front meets the back, and between 2-4″ the rest of the way down the length at each side. That was a lot of extra fabric removed and it could be simply that I don’t like such fullness without tailoring to add the flattering factor. I also raised the hem about 2″ to accommodate my short legs!

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The pattern does not give instructions for French seams so I found a tutorial online and my conclusion is that they are deceptively simple and give a really neat finish. It just took a bit of thinking about as to where to place the lining (for the initial seam – in a layer where back of dress has right die down, laid on top is the lining right side also down, and finally front of dress with right side up; for the second seam – right sides of front and lining together).

I can see this dress being quite handy this summer and especially on our beach holiday. I also think I will make another dress, a modification of the dress but as a top with a halter back, and a further modification as a top with the same front and back. I have some more Amy Butler and some Anna Maria Horner voile, and I think it will be quite good in Liberty lawn too.

It feels good to have accomplished making a dress, and one that I like. Now I think I might be on a roll making more than just this dress!

Ali Wilkinson

Off The Grid


Two weeks ago I got my iPad version of the latest Love Patchwork and Quilting. If you haven’t discovered this magazine then you MUST go out and seek it as you will be very pleased that you made the effort to do so! It’s a UK publication but as Apple offers it through their Newsstand it is available to all us global quilters in the electronic format. I have a subscription and can honestly say that in every issue I find at least one idea I am inspired by.

The above photo is a screenshot of the Off The Grid quilt designed by the Edinburgh Modern Quilt Guild. Isn’t it fabulously retro yet modern? Especially with that Eames reproduction chair in the foreground….

If you have read recent posts you will know that my best intentions with the Oakshott purples and blues shot cottons did not go according to my imagination nor plans and that I abandoned the modern  crosses quilt I had intended to make. In fact, I was starting to feel quite down in the dumps about the whole FQ bundle searching for inspiration when I came across this quilt pattern again at the weekend. I had made a note to make the quilt in the future, I just hadn’t connected the dots between the pattern and the fabric bundle until yesterday.


When I got home from work tonight I hustled to my sewing room and starting cutting strips as per the instructions. It’s an improvisational design so the instructions are simply to cut strips of random widths between X and Y and then to assemble blocks from them. The pattern provides a “recipe” for the required number of blocks of several different sizes, and then gives instructions for assembly. It’s a good formula as it really allows the quilter to add a huge amount of personalisation into the mix in addition to the selection of fabrics.

I have made four blocks so far of the 48 total required and I really like the method and the results I am getting. Apologies for the colour quality of the photo which was taken in bad light using my iPhone instead of the usual DSLR.

I plan on using the 12 or so Oakshott fabrics for the coloured improv squares and then a Kona grey for the background – perhaps silver, smoke or shadow. The finished quilt is destined to be 64″ x 74″ although I might make it square out at 74″ x 74″.

So, first cab off the rank for the Q4 of the 2015 Finish Along!

Ali Wilkinson


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You may have noticed a brief absence the last two weeks. I spent a week on a course in Queenstown for work, that was fun, profound and exhausting. Then I spent a week catching up and also getting my head back in the Real World. The course was incredible but involved a lot of soul searching and goal setting, and I often find that when I do that kind of activity in such an intense way it takes me a few days to get back to reality. So apologies for my silence.

Before heading away I whipped up a couple of pouches, because everyone needs something nice and new to take away on a trip! The first thing I made was a boxy pouch following the No Guts Boxy pattern by The So Chick Chick which I bought on Craftsy. (link is not affiliate, I won’t earn anything if you buy the pattern).

The pattern was very easy and straightforward, good instructions, and clear photos. It took me about an hour. I made it slightly shorter than the pattern as I wanted to use fat quarters and had already cut into the outer fabric. I used Anna Maria Horner Folk Song of rate exterior, Cotton + Steel (Tokyo Train Ride collection) for the inside and Art Gallery Squared Elements for the tabs. You will also need SF101 interfacing and a long zip.

I used it to corral all my charger cords and plugs and laptop mouse for the trip, and it is the perfect size for that. Using the SF101 makes it sturdy enough for the purpose but it doesn’t stand up on its own. For the photo above I had to stuff it to show off the shape. I think it would adapt well to having sturdier interfacing.

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I used the same fabrics to make a coordinating pencil case using Svetlana’s Lola Pouch. (once again, not an affiliate link). I’ve made several of these before and can’t find a way to perfect this pattern!

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Because I was on a roll, I made another Lola Pouch using Cotton + Steel matches for the exterior and Anna Maria Horner for the interior. Once again, the trim fabric is an Art Gallery one. (Am I becoming predictable in my choice of fabrics for pouches?!)

This second pencil case Lola is for my coloured pencils as I have recently joined the bandwagon craze of adult colouring books (not adult X-rated themed, but designs to appeal to adults!).

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I think it’s time I went back to making a quilt and I have two ideas in mind – a modern crosses using Oakshott shot cottons in purples (I shared the fabric pull a few weeks ago) and following a design something like this one by Mandy Parks, or the Paper Petals quilt by Adrienne which I bought the pattern for yonks ago but will involve lots of paper piecing.

So, what should it be? Improv modern crosses in deep rich purples, or paper piecing in pale blues and oranges?