Do you love pretty things?
Then you’re in for a treat!
Today’s What’s in Your Sewing Bag guest has a knack for imbuing pretty in everything she creates.
Ali from Arabesque Scissors has been a quilty friend for quite a while. We naturally met on Instagram – shocker, I know 😉
Since I’m based in Canada and Ali lives in Australia, our creative paths probably would have never crossed had we not both been on Instagram.
How lucky are we that technology allows us to create these connections. Until I can hop on a plane and visit Ali in her studio, I’ll have to get my fill of her gorgeous handmade pillows, quilts and sewing notions online. Her adorable needle books are always a feast for the eyes.
Which is why I’m thrilled for you to get a chance to know Ali’s creative journey and sneak a peek inside her sewing bags – yup, that’s bags with an ‘s’ 😊
*This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.
Introduction – tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started on your quilting journey?
I’ve been sewing since I was very small – mum taught me the basics of using her tiny Elna machine when I was about 8 years old. This meant teaching me sewing straight(ish!) lines, and untangling knots when I got in a mess, then she left me too it, watching with greater and greater trepidation as I began sewing more complicated and expensive items!
I made my first quilt for my bed when I was 15, out of offcuts from a Manchester warehouse. You used to be able to buy their precut squares, and you got a lucky dip kind of bag full. They certainly weren’t regular sizes, but that didn’t matter. I made my first patchwork quilt, with no points matching, along with Austrian blinds for my window, and an EPP cushion. Years later I sat on that cushion and found a pin I’d left behind in it!
I dabbled in all kinds of crafts and types of sewing – even running a dressmaking business when I first got married. I used to make wedding dresses, although the thought of that now scares me to death. I’m officially back to the ‘no I won’t hem your pants!’
So now after nearly finishing raising and homeschooling 6 kids, and welcoming our first grandchild, my super busy life revolves around becoming more organised. I need to fit my beloved sewing into my day. I’m designing products that help me towards this goal, and hopefully help others towards this too!
Ouch, Ali! That’s always been a fear of mine – leaving a pin in something and then ‘finding’ it years later – ha! I just adore how you got started sewing. What lovely memories you must have of sewing with your mum when you were young. I think it’s awesome that you took her introduction to sewing and ran with it! How cool that you were a wedding dress maker! That must have been quite the ride, but I totally hear you on the ‘no, I won’t hem your pants!’ – lol!
Wow, Ali, I didn’t know you have 6 kids! I’m always amazed by how much mothers can get done! No wonder you’re all about being more organized 😉
What kind of sewing bag do you have? (e.g. did you make it? Buy it?)
I’ve had many sewing bags, and all of them I’ve made myself. But I’ve found myself frustrated that nothing I’ve made has worked super well for what I’ve intended, or even work together with other bags properly. Especially when I need to pack up and travel, then I’ve had to use an ugly purchased catch-all to pile everything into, which has never been functional either.
So I recently set out to begin seriously designing my own travelling bag system. Something that is not only functional, but easy on the eye as well.
So this is my first prototype of the ‘mix and match’ all in one stitching tote. It doesn’t have an official name as yet, but I totally love it! I’ve tried to think very differently about how I use and store stuff, and what would be the most functional way of creating a bag that isn’t plastic, doesn’t use plastic, but is still sturdy.
This is a lovely and practical design, Ali! I love how everything nests into itself. Plus, your fabric choices are so inspiring and pretty to look at!! I do love me some handmade eye-candy!
What are your all-star essentials? Your tried-and-true must haves that you can never run out of?
So in this bag there’s rather a lot of stuff…but it fits together perfectly and looks pretty spiffy in the latest *Tilda Garden Life collection.
I’m a really big fan of stitching on the sofa as a form of relaxing, even during the day sometimes! I love all kinds of stitching, from English Paper Piecing to hand quilting, needle turn, crochet and knitting. My favourite products right now are from *Sewline – the glue pen, the *chalk pencil and the *eraser. They’re just so well designed and made to last. I may have stashed quite a lot of *glue refills too – I go through them quite quickly and just love that *glue pen!
I also love a sharp pair of tiny scissors; I keep a couple in here actually – I find they’re super useful. I have a bit of a scissors thing going on – I have way more scissors than I will ever need, and some of them even cut! My small rotary cutter is a great travel option too.
Sewline has some really nifty notions. I have their glue pen and chalk pencil and both work like a charm! With all the EPP you do, I don’t blame you for stocking up on the glue refills! Always good to have those at the ready for when the mood strikes 😉 We twin on loving scissors. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something very appealing about the little snips that just bring joy to my stitching journey!
What is your favourite item in your kit? Why?
My favourite item is probably my *Clover leather thimble. It seems like this a popular favourite in this sewing bag series! It really saves my fingers when I’m having a good stitching session. I can go so much longer when I’m wearing this. I have another brand as well which I also wear, but I’m going to get a second one of these, as they’re just that good.
Aren’t they the best?! I often catch myself walking around the house with mine still on! It’s so cozy I forget I have it on 😉
What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your bag?
I have a *Toblerone stashed inside sometimes…being chocolate you can’t keep it too long, which is kind of the point. The size fits perfectly and might be the reason I designed the whole bag! Stitching and chocolate go hand in hand…carefully of course. We don’t want any sticky marks…
LOL – Ali, my eyes 100% darted to the mini Toblerone included in your sewing bag. I have the biggest sweet tooth and Toblerone is a fave around here! I do love that you designed your bag with chocolate goodies in mind!!
QUILT KITS WILL TRAVEL
When do you find yourself using your kit the most? (Travelling, on the sofa, attending sew-ins?)
I like to take this bag everywhere…from my studio to my sofa, and away with me when I travel too. It’s super sturdy and stable, and all the parts are interchangeable, which means I can just add in more pouches, nix the hexie tray, or load up on Toblerones if the need arises!
So fun to have options! I love how versatile your sewing bag design is. I can see it working for so many different styles of makers.
What’s your favourite travel memory with your sewing bag?
None so far, as my bag is super new!
Just think of the fun memories you’re going to create with her! Love that kind of anticipation 😉
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?
Tell people where we can find you?
This bag is being written up as a pattern as we speak for a proposed release date around August. So to keep up-to-date, just go to Arabesque-Scissors.com and sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll keep you informed. You can also follow me:
- Instagram: @arabesquescissors
- YouTube: @Arabesque Scissors
- Facebook: Arabesque Scissors
- Etsy Shop
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you so much for having me here today Shannon – I’ve loved reading your series and seeing how other sewists sew. And it’s been super fun to share a peek inside my bag, and how it’s working for me.
Oh, it’s me who thanks you, Ali! This series wouldn’t be possible without your participation. So, thank you! It’s always a treat getting to read through your responses and seeing the photos that get sent through. Keep up your amazing work and sharing your beautiful creations to inspire us on the daily.
For more What’s in Your Sewing Bag fun, check out these guests:
- Jeni from In Color Order
- Wendy from The Weekend Quilter
- Shelagh from Stuart Moores Textiles
- Xanthe from Wife Made
- Amy from nanaCompany