I Love seeing what people are stitching with Aurifil

I love to see the work that other people have been doing with Aurifil threads so, when Vicki from The Pickledish Patch called into pick up some Aurifil stock for her store, I was thrilled to see this beautiful hand embroidery that she  has being doing with Cotton Mako’ 12.

Vicki's embroidery with Cotton Mako' 12 on the Vignette Quilt by Leanne Beasley

It is part of the Vignette Mystery Quilt by Leanne Beasley and, as Vicki wanted to stitch the embroidery with Cotton Mako 12,  she converted the colours on the requirements list into the Mako colours. On her blog Vicki said:

Well…how delightful they are to use. One strand of thread which goes thru so smoothly and no splitting them either. They are kept on a reel and I like that idea too. I love them and am so glad I decided to use them for this stitchery BOM. “

The embroidery looks wonderful so I thought you would like a close up view.  You will be able to follow Vicki’s  progress on her mystery quilt on her blog.

A close up of Vicki's lovely embroidery using Cotton Mako' 12

Vicki’s idea of converting the thread colours into the Cotton Mako’ colour codes is an idea worth noting. 

You don’t have to use a particular thread range just because it is the one on the pattern requirements list. You are allowed to give yourself permission to customise a pattern to your preferred your choice of fabrics and Aurifil threads.

What type of quilt batting is best?

This week I was asked which batting was better, specifically if 60/40 wool mix was better than 100% wool batting, and what a dilemma this question of better/best poses. 

The quilt batting rack in the shop holds a roll each of wool/poly batting, in natural & charcoal, plus a roll of cotton /poly and a roll of very thin pellon style polyester.

The quilt batting rack in the shop holds a roll each of wool/poly batting, in natural & charcoal, plus a roll of cotton /poly and a roll of very thin pellon style polyester.

There are a multitude of battings on the market, and the choice of batting is determined by many factors, so the following comments are based on my quilting experiences, and observations, and will not necessarily agree with your quilting experiences and observations. 

The starting point for my favourite quilt batting
I have always used the 60/40 wool mix as I like the idea of the polyester scrim & needle punching to stabilise the wool fibres. My quilts are all soft, with a nice quilting definition, and they can withstand gentle machine washing on a wool cycle without the fibres migrating through the cotton fabric. Although there is that element of synthetic in the batting, the quilts are still comfortable to use all year round as they “breathe”. 

I used wool/poly batting in the elephant attic window quilt

Batting is always a personal choice so the other thing to consider is how you plan to quilt …. hand quilting, domestic machine quilting or longarm quilting all have different requirements. 
I machine quilt with a longarm machine, holding the handles as I guide the machine head over the quilt, so I can “feel” the effort required for the needle to push through the batting.
I have found that the needle passes through the wool & wool/mix battings much easier than through cotton batting.
You can actually feel the vibration, & hear the needle “punching” into a cotton batting, as it stitches. The only time this is not noticeable is when the cotton batting has been pre-soaked/pre-shrunk so that it has been softened, and then the needle action is smoother, but still not as smooth as for a wool batting.
Surprisingly, even though bamboo batting is also made from a plant fibre, it has a softer stitching action with the needle passing through the quilt sandwich almost as easily as the wool & wool mix battings.
A word of warning here though, don’t be tempted to pre-wash bamboo batting, it needs to be stabilised inside the quilt before washing.
So, although I am a machine quilter, and do very little hand quilting,  wool or wool mix batting would be my choice for hand quilting. 

Hand quilting

Cotton batting creates a static relationship with cotton fabric so that it “sticks” to the fabric. This can be useful when quilting on a domestic machine, provided the quilt is flat and has been well basted before hand.  
However the static relationship is not desired when quilting with a longarm machine where the quilt & batting are moving independently of each other. In this situation the static relationship can form tucks & pleats very easily.

Quilting with a longarm machine means that the 3 quilt parts move independently until they are actually quilted together

The other factor to consider is the finished appearance of the quilt.
Do you like a quilt to have a traditional fluffy appearance or a flatter smoother texture?
You will achieve a traditional fluffy result by using a cotton batting that has not been pre-washed, as this will allow the shrinkage resulting in the first wash to puff up around the quilted stitching. 
Wool, wool mix & bamboo battings do not seem to have this same effect so the quilting texture will stay very much as it was when first quilted. 
So you can see,  “best” statements should always be put into context so that you can see how the writer/speaker works, and understand why their choice of batting is best for that person/job. 

The Remarkable Queenstown Quilt Symposium 2011

I have recently returned from the New Zealand Quilt Symposium. This event is held every two years and is always in a different area of New Zealand.  I take part in a Round Robin with friends from around the world who gather at these NZ Symposia to exchange the finished tops and begin the next one. This quilt was the result of a picture sliced into eight parts and each of the participants translated their slice of the picture into fabric.

Round Robin 2007

The 2011 Round Robin will be posted as soon as the quilting is completed. WATCH THIS SPACE.

The 2011 symposium consisted of 5 days of classes with tutors from all over the world.

The weather was wonderful and my classes were delightful and thought provoking. I had a class with Merrilyn George exploring Pacific Patterns.

Free style drawings and templates for printing

Mary Transom taught her beautiful Agapanthus design.

Pieces will be stitched down with matching thread

Gloria Loughman provided some play time with our fabric resulting in Colour Fusion.

Fabric strips sewn together with Aurifil Monofilament

Top stitching with a variety of Aurifil thread will complete this piece

The luxury of spending uninterrupted time creating and discovering new ways of expressing my love of patchwork and quilting is very special to me.

If you have an opportunity to take a class it can be a very rewarding experience. New ideas and new friends  are just two of the delightful outcomes.

You still have time to make a handcrafted gift for Mother’s Day

It only takes one hour to make a Dorset Button brooch using Cotton Mako’ Ne 12 so you still have time to whip up a pretty handcrafted gift for Mothers Day.

A variety of Dorset Button Brooches made using French Knots or Bullion Knots
To make a Dorset Button all you need is a metal ring to use as the base, some thread, ribbon, felt & brooch back.

Add a needle & a pair of scissors and this is all you need to make a lovely gift

If you are in a real hurry you can do what I did with the brooch below. I stitched fewer “knots” and fill the gaps with seed beads, speeding up the making and adding a touch of  glitz at the same time.
Cotton Mako’ Ne 12 Dorset Button, finished ready to add the gift card


 You will find an instruction sheet for making a Dorset Button in the Freebies box on the left hand side of the screen.

The Cotton Mako’ thread is available from our online store and Susan Brubaker Knapp of Blue Moon River , one of our Aurifil Experts, has written a great downloadable instruction for stitching French Knots , for both right  & left handed embroiderers.

So no excuses, hop to with that needle & thread to make your own handcrafted gift.

We would love to hear from you, so don’t forget to tell us what colour combination you chose for your brooch.