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

Long Time Gone BOM Month #2 and Mini Tutorial


The second month of Jen Kingwell’s year-long BOM, Long Time Gone, arrived last week. I think NZ and Australia Post were trying to bug me as the shipping took ages and I was very much postman-stalking waiting this delivery!

This month is a traditional block of a square in square star, measuring 12″ finished, and once again I made a duplicate using my Liberty stash – BOM supplied fabrics on the right and Liberty on the left in the image above.

My go-to method for making square in square blocks economically whilst preventing bias edge distortion is to make them using foundation piecing, so I drew up foundation patterns as below and then photocopied the correct number.


It’s really easy to make these templates. The outside box is sized to be the unfinished size, so in this case 3.5″ (as the squares need to be 3″ finished). I then measured 1/2″ inside the outside box and made a mark at the mid-point on each side, then joined those marks together to make the inside square. This means the square points will touch the finished edge of the block. For the half square in square blocks I did a similar process making the outside rectangle 2″ x 3.5″, but this time as the final joining seams will do the job of creating points at each end of the long side of the triangle (or half square), I only needed to make the mark on one long side of the rectangle and join them to the actual outside corners of the rectangle on the opposite side.

Of course, I ought to have drawn another rectangle to make optimal use of photocopying, but hey ho, I didn’t so I now have a bunch of templates of the square in square ready for another project!

For the fabric cutting I was semi-economical. For the square in squares I cut centre square fabric a little over 1/2″ larger than the actual square, and for the corner triangles I wanted a bit of wriggle room so cut squares at 2.75″ and then in half into triangles. I used my lightbox to place the centre square over the correct part of the template and then placed each triangle in turn onto the square using the lines on the template to position them, and then sewed them in place.

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Don;t forget to use a short stitch length with paper templates, or you will weaken or destroy seams when you remove the papers later on. Once all four corner triangles were sewn on I was able to trim on the outside lines of the square using an old rotary cutter blade (I keep one specifically for cutting paper templates) with the end result of a perfect square in square block. Here’s before and after trimming:

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This might seem a bit long winded and time consuming, but I find the end results are so much more accurate and there is no fighting bias seams or having to unpick and sew again when your corner triangle is not quite in the right place. There’s not a lot of wastage either even with the trimming down to size.

I made the flying geese half square in square blocks in a similar way. This time I used rectangles and sewed the triangles on top then trimmed the corners of the rectangle underneath at the end. That results in a bit more wastage. It is entirely possible to cut triangles instead of rectangles and follow the same process , but do make sure to cut the triangles a little larger than needed just to ensure super accuracy at the end.

In other news, my Hawthorne Threads order of Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids arrived on Friday and so I am now ready to work out what I am going to do with the centre of the medallion. I will report back next week (hopefully) on progress!

Ali Wilkinson

Keeping Warm

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It’s been cold the past few weeks here in Christchurch. Below freezing cold. The kind of cold that cuts to the bone and you find it really hard to shake. We don’t do cold so well in New Zealand. I think we delude ourselves that the top part of the country is sub-tropical and therefore the entire country ought to be the same. Also I think that we forget that there’s nothing between us and that ice mass called Antarctica, and that when the wind blows from down there it carries with it a real cold bite. We installed central heating with radiators to overcome this but our damaged house with all its cracks finds it hard to cope on these coldest days. I so can’t wait for our new house next year!

In the meantime I decided to make some hot water bottle covers using scraps from my overflowing scrap bin. I sorted the scraps into several piles, pulling scraps from specific quilts to save myself time mix and matching. Taking similar sized pieces I assembled them into bigger blocks which I joined together to make even bigger segments until eventually I had two large squares in each fabric selection  that were larger than hot water bottles.

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I made a template roughly an inch larger than the hot water bottle all around. Then marked two lines 2″ apart crossing at the shoulder of the bottle and 2″ below it – these are the marks for the two overlapping pieces on the front of the cover which serve as the opening.

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To use up spare batting I bonded scrap pieces together with heat bond tape and made a quilt sandwich with a lining fabric, the batting and the pieced square. I quilted with straight lines, just enough to hold everything together and provide some firmness but not to much to make it rigid. I then cut out my template pieces.

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I used a regular 2.5″ binding, pressed in half lengthwise and bound the edges of the two front pieces where the opening is. I also added a small ribbon loop to the top piece. This will be a button closure loop.

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Then I assembled them with the rear right side up, the top of the front right side down, then the bottom of the front right side down. I sewed all around the outside edge, snipped the rounded edges and turned it right side out.

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The one above was made with scraps from my Indian Blanket quilt, which were full and half triangles so resulted in lots of diagonal lines.

The one below was made with scraps from my Kaffe Fassett Gypsy Wife quilt.

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