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

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

WIP Wednesday


Slowly, slowly, we catch the monkey. Such was a saying Gary’s Singaporean boss had, and I think it’s quite an appropriate expression for the way progress goes with English paper piecing.

This is the Tula Pink Marquise kit that is my handwork project for the year. There are 26 full diamonds and 4 half diamonds, 3 filler rows of honeycombs in cream and grey, and the top and bottom rows of half diamonds in cream and grey to square the quilt up. Having completed 6 diamonds so far I am pretty pleased with progress.

At this stage I have yet to remove any of the paper templates and my plan is to join together the first row of diamonds with the first row of half diamonds of cream and grey and then remove the templates then. I always leave the edge templates in though as that gives some structure and holds the shape of the piece already assembled. I also steam press before removing the templates, which is a bit of  a danger job as the paper deflects the steam somewhat and so I have to be careful not to scald myself. Ah, the perils of producing beautiful work!

How do you use templates and do EPP? I am always keen to hear tips and tricks!

Ali Wilkinson

Shaky Islands

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It’s been a good week in the sewing studio and shopping for the studio. In Auckland I managed to squeeze in a stop at Patchwork Passion and another at All About Patchwork. In the former I bought a few Tula FQs and some French General linen that will be perfect for a table runner, and in the latter I bought a bit of Kaffe, some Cotton and Steel and some Kona Snow, which is one of my go-to basics.

I had wanted to buy a variety of Kaffe stripes to make the Haze Kilim (see an example here) but they didn’t have a large range and not the thin caterpillar stripes I was looking for. I think their recent Kaffe workshop with the man himself has seen quilters descend on the shop like locusts and snag all the Kaffe fabrics! When I got home I quickly went onto Glorious Color and bought the caterpillar stripes in blues and greens and some of the ikat in similar watery colours, so now I am hoping they will arrive before the retreat next weekend. That might be wishful thinking.

My Jen Kingwell BOM project has not arrived yet and so as I ended up with an evening and day free to sew this weekend I had to improvise. I have lots of Kate Spain Paradiso left over from my Cruces de Revolution quilt and so on Friday night when I spotted a log cabin quilt in the latest Love Patchwork and Quilting, I knew I had to make a version of it with these fabrics.

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I have modified the quilt a little as it’s way too small in the pattern and above are my planning notes (using my Quilters Planner!!). I am calling this quilt Tropical Cabins as they will be an improv log cabin using these tropical colours. There are four different blocks that make up the quilt and these are repeated and placed randomly in rotation. The blocks have differing widths of “logs” and so when set together they will be a bit jaunty. So far I have made all of Block A and cut the components for blocks B, C and D.

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Here they are placed on my design wall, not at all in the end design, but looking very pretty nonetheless. I plan on making the quilt one row shorter than the pattern (so it is square) and then surrounding the unit of blocks with white fabric,sort of off-set towards a corner of the white background. Hoping it will be quite pretty.

So if my Jen Kingwell doesn’t arrive by Friday I will be taking this to the retreat to work on alongside the paper pieced In-flight and the hand-pieced Tula Marquise.

Mid way through making these blocks, just after I had got a fresh mug of tea, we got a 5.9 quake here in Christchurch. It went on for a good while, enough that I was starting to get anxious it was becoming a bigger quake. My tea ended up all over the sewing machine (it fell from the cutting table which is higher) and all over the chain pieced blocks, which had the initial square and the first round of logs. But the kitchen and laundry were bigger messes to clear up. I think my sewing machine is OK as I was able to finish these but I am a bit concerned and will keep an eye on it longer term. Holy smokes! It’s been shaking off and on all afternoon and we do NOT need a whole new swarm of quakes just as we feel we are seeing the daylight at the end of this tunnel of recovery!

Kia kaha, readers.

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