Thursday 23 February 2023

Aurifil Artisan Challenge for February

This month’s Aurifil Artisan February challenge focuses on my favourite thread weight.

My absolute favourite has to be the 50 weight thread, identified by the orange spool colour. This fabulous strong but thin thread is available in an incredible 270 different colours!

The 50 weight thread is my go-to for so many techniques including English paper piecing, hand applique, machine piecing, machine blanket stitch applique and paper foundation piecing. The thread is very strong and can withstand the fine, tight stitching when joining hexagons together but it is so fine that the stitches disappear.  

The fine nature of the thread also means that machine pieced seams sit very flat and neat when pressed. Machine pieced blocks will turn out much more accurately when you use 50 weight thread.  This means all your measurements will add up!

I recently completed machine piecing a new quilt in the beautiful Tilda range called “Chic Escape”. The fabric features gorgeous florals in rich autumnal colours as well as classic urns and beautiful peacocks.

I used the perfect cream 50 weight thread to make my quilt. Colour #2000 is a gorgeous light cream. A slightly darker colour #2312 is also a great versatile piecing choice. I always balance the thread weight in my machine by winding the same thread on the bobbin for perfect stitching.

My quilt is a combination of two blocks.  The first is simply four squares with a cross through the middle and a little centre square.  To add more detail, the second block is made of four little 4-patch cross blocks with the same cross and centre square proportions as the first block. Lots of machine piecing, which I enjoy.  

The blocks were looking rather busy when I laid them out so my choice of sashing was a light cream spot which toned down the busyness and added some relief to the design. A plain pink border and then a gorgeous Tilda floral complete the quilt.

My quilt was beautifully professionally edge to edge quilted in a gorgeous fleur di lis style pattern by Leanne Harvey of Mount Vincent Quilting. Now to sew the binding on!

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Aurifil Challenge for January

 Sometimes it just feels great to revamp one of your favourite patterns!

The January challenge for Aurifil Artisans was about new beginnings for the year.  I decided to showcase one of my older projects in a new pretty colour scheme.

I am very well known for using my beloved reproduction fabrics, especially from the civil war era in rich earthy colours, but lately I have been enjoying using the fresh and beautiful prints created by Tilda.  You will notice a lot of the recent patterns on my website are made from gorgeous Tilda ranges including Cotton Beach, Chic Escape and Hometown.

I am remaking my “A Daisy a Day Table Runner” in the newest Tilda fabric called Pie in the Sky. I selected one of the gorgeous floral prints in purple, pink and a greeny yellow for the border of the runner and then selected more of the coordinating prints for the applique flowers and scrolls. Sometimes it is trial and error, so don’t be afraid to try a fabric combo and reject it if it does not work.

This is raw edge fused applique, so I used my go-to 50 weight Aurifil threads for the buttonhole machine stitching.  These fine, strong, pure cotton threads come in so many fabulous colours I can always find a matching thread no matter what fabric I am using!

My Bernina is set to buttonhole with a stitch length of 2.0 and a stitch width of 2.0.  I always balance the top thread with the same thread weight and colour in the bobbin for a flawless finish. Magic! I also always use a stitch and tear stabiliser behind machine applique to keep the stitching even and the background fabric flat.

For piecing I also use my 50 weight (in white this time) as it is fine and stitches beautifully.

Press well, layer with pellon and a pieced backing and pin baste the three layers together. I am going to quilt it by hand using a white Aurifil 12 weight thread to create some lovely texture.

This will be a big year for me, turning 60 when I am in Paris in April, and I am hoping to progress my business and create lots of new stitching projects.  I hope you will follow my progress on my social media on Facebook and Instagram as well as here in my blog.

Here is my finished table runner.  I love the bright happy colours and the simplicity of the hand quilting. The pattern for this project is available from my website here.

Thursday 22 December 2022

My Recent Sewing Adventures

Just catching you up on some of my recent sewing!

I was delighted to complete my 13th Jane Austen Quilt Collection designs called “Barton Park”.

This quilt has taken me longer than usual as I started it way back before Covid and had to put it away during the lockdowns to produce online classes and small project patterns for sale through my website. 

All of the English paper piecing and hand applique has been achieved using my favourite 50 weight Aurifil cotton threads in colours matching my fabrics. I collected gorgeous pinks, yellows, blues and greens for this quilt, bordered by a stunning Dutch Heritage border fabric.  I also used my 50 weight in the top and bobbin of my machine to piece the whole quilt together.

I took the quilt to Show and Tell this week at The Quilting Queen in Penrith, a lovely shop where I teach. I was very pleased with the response from the ladies.

I also showed a new European pillow sized cushion cover called “Summer in Chelsea”, made with the upcoming Tilda range “Pie in the Sky”, to be released next February.

I am now taking a break for Christmas and New Year, hoping to get lots of stitching time on new small projects and also design a major piece to work on next year.  Here is a glimpse of what I am playing with, English paper piecing using Aurifil 50 weight threads.

Happy stitching everyone!  K x

Saturday 22 October 2022

Aurifil Artisan Challenge for October

 This month’s challenge was to create a piece using both hand and machine quilting.

I love to add a lot of hand quilting to my smaller projects.  I think it adds beautiful texture and colour to a piece.  Also, I love the rhythmic relaxation of sitting and hand stitching.

This time I combined simple straight lines quilted on the machine with the more intricate hand quilting around the details of the stitchery and the applique.  This is “Harriet’s Hexie Bag”.

My design incorporates a lovely stitchery flower surrounded by panels of gorgeous hexagons! I have hand quilted using 12 weight thread around the stitchery and inside every little hexagon.  The back pale green panels are simply machine quilted using gorgeous 50 weight cotton Aurifil thread.

I loved making this pretty bag using some of my favourite fabrics and the beauty of my Aurifil threads enhances my work, as always.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Progress on “Barton Park”

I have been making a major applique quilt for my “Jane Austen Quilt Collection” series every year for the past thirteen years.  Unfortunately Covid delayed the completion of my next quilt, to be called “Barton Park”.

Now I am able to get back to it and am excited to finish it soon.

Here is the centre of the quilt, an arrangement of pretty flowers around a circle.  Can you see my little bee?

My favourite applique technique is an English basted process, much like English paper piecing.  It is a turned edge technique which gives very accurate and reliable results.

Of course I always use my Aurifil threads, my thread weight of choice being 50 weight.  This fine but strong pure cotton thread comes in so many beautiful colours I can always match the thread colour to the fabric I am applying.  The fineness of the thread also makes it melt into the turned edge of the applique piece, making it practically invisible.

Here is a close up of my applique roses.  I use the same length of matching thread to gather my circles and then applique them.

Here are the next applique flower borders in progress.

Coffee time…

The next border is a series of large leaf-like shapes which form circles around a hexagon petal flower.

I am now designing the cornerstone blocks for these borders, then one more applique border to go.  I love my hand applique and the challenge of designing and stitching these large complex quilts, made easier using my favourite Aurifil threads.

Saturday 30 July 2022

“Floriade” Mug Bag - Aurifil Artisan Challenge for July

My second challenge as an Aurifil Artisan was to make something suitable for stitching “on the go”. Was there ever a better challenge for me, with my love of hexagons? 

I always have some English Paper Piecing prepped and ready to stitch when I am out and waiting or visiting or a car passenger, anytime really.

With this challenge I decided to make a cute bag suitable to carry a mug to class or retreat.  The bag can also hold a portable fold up table lamp or mini-iron.

I started with some beautiful fabrics from the Laundry Basket range called “Lady Tulip” and covered and whip stitched 112 1/2” hexagons together.  This is my favourite “on the go” part of the process.  All you need is a little bag of hexagon templates, your fabric, scissors, needle and Aurifil thread.

I love to use my Aurifil 50 weight thread for thread basting the fabric to the hexagon paper shapes.  This stitching stays in place.

I also use 50 weight for joining the hexagons together.  I prefer to colour match my thread colour to the colour of the fabric I am stitching.  The 50 weight comes in all colours and is so fine it melts into the fabric and disappears!

The constructed hexagon fabric piece forms the outside of the bag.  A beautiful feature floral was used for the lining.

A lovely pink was selected for the sides and button loop and the green floral for the handle.  Once lined with fusible pellon, all these pieces were hand quilted using a pink Aurifil 12 thread.

All of the bag pieces were pinned and stitched on the machine  using a walking foot attachment.  The circumference of the bag was then bound to finish.

I hope you love my little bag as much as I do.  The pattern is available from my website as an instant download or in printed form, with or without the hexagon paper templates.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Aurifil Artisan 2022: First Challenge

I am delighted to have been chosen as an Aurifil Artisan for 2022/23, one of forty creative people from around the world!

I have been using Aurifil’s beautiful threads for many years and now I have a chance to explore, experiment and educate about this fabulous product.

My first challenge was to create a project using some of the threads received in my welcome Artisan box.  My selection included two green spools (40 weight thread) in a stunning medium and dark blue.  Having recently purchased a colour graduated stack of blue fabrics that caught my eye, I was ready for the challenge.

A little blue ceramic coaster was my inspiration to play with a symmetrical design featuring floral elements and a hint of fleur-de-lis.  I chose to use fusible raw edge applique for this design as the pieces were two small and intricate for turned edge applique.

I traced each design element onto fusible webbing and cut outside the lines. Then each shape was fused to the wrong side of the chosen fabric.  Every shape was then cut out accurately on the drawn lines with a sharp pair of scissors.

The pattern sheet was placed under a square of off-white linen and all shapes were fused in place.

Now for the stitching.  I used the two spools of 40 weight cotton thread on most of the blue pieces, balancing the same thread weight and colour in the bobbin.  The colours were #1128 (Light blue violet) and #1158 (medium grey). I like to use a small single buttonhole stitch on my Bernina for this type of applique. It produces a very neat finish which does not overpower the design.  For the very light blue shapes, I used an Aurifil 50 weight that I had on hand, #2710 (light robins egg).

I also always use a light stabiliser behind my machine applique. It makes the stitching much more even and does not pucker or shrink the background fabric.

Once the applique was complete, I removed all the stabiliser, trimmed my block and added a row of blue squares around the applique centre.  Then a thin border of the linen was added to accentuate the blues.

I like to use medium weight fusible pellon behind my small projects and then the most relaxing part: hand quilting!  I used the #2021 (natural white) in the 12 weight thread from my pack to echo quilt around every shape and in the ditch of the squares border.  For the echo quilting inside the squares, I hand quilted using #2847 (bright grey blue). I love to use my quarter inch wide quilters masking tape to guide me in quilting straight lines.

Lastly, I backed the cushion in a gorgeous soft blue and cream floral with three large coconut shell buttons for the closure. A formal finish to the cushion was achieved by sewing a blue binding around the edge.

Very happy with how it turned out and looks great with my blue Hamptons lounge room decor.

The pattern for my “Wedgewood” Cushion is now available on my website here.

Thank you to Aurifil threads for the fun challenge.  Loving my threads and look forward to next month’s project.