I have been having more fun with Aurifil LANA – the user friendly, wool blend thread on a spool. This blog shows how I used Lana as the thread of choice to embroider on linen.   In my stash of ‘vintage’ embroideries and doilies I had a set of three printed with Australian Callistemon designs.

The pre-printed design on linen

The linen came with an old photo to illustrate the colours and some brief stitching instructions.

I then had to work out from the Lana thread chart, and some photos of Callistemons from the computer  what colours I would work my embroidery in.  At this time of the year, the flowers aren’t showing on the trees in my garden.

Some of the colours I used for the embroidery

I used several different Lana colours for the Callistemon flowers, seed pods and the leaves. Even though Aurifil has a huge range of colours to choose from, I greedily wished I could add a few more to the range!! – specifically  a  few more ‘Australian’ colours!!

Usually I prefer not to work with varigated threads, but I found the wool ones were superb – especially when used with the non- varigated ones.   The slight variation was enough to give a subtle change in the embroidery and I will certainly use them again in embroideries.

The colours I used for the seed pods

I hope that embroiderers do try using the Lana threads for linen embroidery – it is so easy to stitch straight from the spool.

Another beautiful quilt embroidered with Aurifil threads

Wow! I’ve received a set of photos, and a story about a first quilt, from another one of our customers.

Remember earlier in the month when I wrote about Juliet’s quilt, I asked for more feedback about the quilts that you have made with Aurifil threads.

Well, Strella responded with this great story, and set of photos.

The centre of Strella’s embroidered quilt

Strella is a dedicate machine embroiderer but this is the first time that she has used embroidered blocks to make a quilt.

She said that the inspiration to start came from the Royal Reflections designs by Lyn Kenny.

The quilt was quite sometime in the making as Strella says:

I was intending to embroider some blocks for a quilt on my Pfaff 2140, in its big Grand Hoop but then I got a Pfaff Creative Vision in January 2008 and an even bigger Grand Dream Hoop. Wow, I won’t need so many blocks if they are bigger!

Strella found that she couldn’t resist playing with the embroidery designs. She wrote:

I created some blocks in Embird software for my GDH and sewed them out. However, each time I test sewed a block I decided I wanted to change something about it. May be it was to have the quilt line as a triple stitch instead of single running stitch, or change the colour combination. I could not decide on the colours for ages. Then I wanted a colour change within the circles. Where would my final decisions end?

Sounds familiar doesn’t it, when can a patchwork quilt maker ever resist modify and tweaking the design?

The bottom corner of Marlene’s quilt

Strella’s colour inspiration came from a fat quarter of a Jinny Beyer border fabric that she had purchased at a Quilt show in Melbourne the year before. As always happens, when you decide that you have found the perfect fabric in your stash you never have enough meterage for the job, but a very good friend helped her track down more on the internet.

So that was colour scheme sorted, especially as she had some satin-backed shantung in a light coffee to use as the background for the embroidery.

Strella said:

I had put the central blocks together and decided then to do the borders down each side to make it wider. I discarded the first border attempt after getting the hang of long lengths of stabilizer and basting in the hoop first.

The beautiful border designs

As often happens, what had started out to be a pair of single quilts ended up being a beautiful queen size quilt, as the embroidery & patchwork layout developed over time.

And of course the finishing touch to every quilt is the label.

An embroidered label, the perfect finish to a beautiful quilt

I have been lucky enough to watch the progress of this quilt over the years. Strella has been a regular visitor in the store to purchase Aurifil thread for the embroidery and piecing, and recently to even purchase the backing fabric.  So although I know very little about the machine embroidery techniques used, I can appreciate the beauty of this quilt when seen in real life.

Don’t forget that we love seeing work that you have completed with Aurifil threads.

So please send us good quality photos, and a brief story, so that we can share your project here with readers of our blog.

Creatively Tweaking

I have great admiration for those craftspeople who design items, those who start with a germ of an idea and take it all the way to a completed masterpiece.  I am in awe of the talent of designers whose patterns for quilts and other items I purchase because I fall in love with the design.

“I could never design like that!” I  think.  And yet, even if our creativity doesn’t extend that far, we all possess creative talents that are reflected in our finished projects (and even in the unfinished ones!!)  When we take someone else’s pattern and make a quilt or handcrafted item, we are using our creativity and putting our own personal stamp on it, from the choice of colour scheme, to the materials, threads and  techniques we employ, and the embellishments we add.

I must admit, that while I do not think I could ever design a quilt from scratch, I do like to do a far bit of “creative tweaking” once I have a basic idea to follow.

I also like to “fiddle” with my knitting patterns.  I actually like to buy old patterns, especially vintage ones which you quite often find in dusty corners of op-shops, so that I can use the stitches and design elements on other garments.

Let me share some photos of my latest knitting creative tweaks.

Knitting a long sleeve for my cardigan.

The pattern I started with is designed by Amanda Crawford and was featured on the cover of The Knitter Magazine, Issue 7 (the  The original garment is knitted in cotton, is a jumper, has short sleeves and a scoop neckline.  It is embellished with a knitted and beaded corsage of wisteria and has a ribbon threaded above the bustline.  My version is knitted in 100% wool,  is a vee-neck cardigan and has long sleeves.  I picked up stitches sideways to make the button/buttonhole bands.  I have not added the embellishments.

Sewing on the buttons with matching Aurifil Cotton (50 weight).

When I creatively tweak a pattern, especially one for a garment which actually has to fit someone, it can be quite challenging to ensure I achieve the desired effect and fit.  Sometimes there is a bit of trial and error involved. (Many errors and lots of trials!!)  For example, I am currently making a jumper for my husband using a pattern which I have adapted to get a more modern fit.  I have knitted the back and front shaping 3 times to get it right.  (I hope he appreciates it!)

But back to my cardigan. …and the finished garment looks like this.

My finished cardigan.

So while we may not all be able to design items from scratch, we are all able to creatively tweak and add our own touches to the things we make.

Enjoy your creativity!!

Free Motion Quilting Challenge Update

When ever I sign up for a Block of the Month OR a Design of the Month I become acutely aware of the how quickly time passes. It seems like I have just written about my FMQ accomplishments under the tutelage of Ann Fahl ….THAT was MARCH!!

The April FMQ tutor was Don Linn. Don has an interesting way of designing and marking quilt patterns onto the fabric. Once you have chosen your design, it is traced onto tulle. The tulle is placed onto your block and the design is transfered with a temporary marking tool. I used a Sewline pencil with green lead for my heart block. Don’s design wasn’t suitable for my heart block so I used one of Sue Patten‘s designs from her Quilting Possibilities book.

New Pattern Marking Techniques

Once the design was marked onto my block I had the new experience of staying on the marked line with my needle. I found this a bit awkward and the results are not as balanced as I would have liked. I filled the big gaps with “pebbles”.

Not wanting to lag behind again on this ‘monthly’ challenge, I completed the May FMQ challenge the day it appeared on Insights From SewCalGal‘s blog! The tutor for May is Leah Day. Leah’s tutorial video is very informative and she presents it in two parts. Several tools are recommended by Leah including the Supreme Slider and Quilting Gloves. One of Leah’s suggestions is to free motion stitch the straight lines as well as the design lines. She uses polyester thread in the top of the machine and in the bobbin. I may try this in the future on another project with Aurilux, but I want to keep the thread in this project consistent.

Part 2 of the tutorial presented  several options. I have used the first option as I think the design suited my crazy patch heart.  The heart was outlined with free motion quilting and then the large meandering was completed. I can honestly say I felt comfortable doing this so progress is being made. The secondary design is a smaller , winding meandering, filling in the larger foundation stitch.

Step 1Step 2

I will humble myself again…the back of the quilt shows my free motion, outline stitching of the heart block. There are a few wobbles and jumps but I am learning heaps. I really like the Supreme Glider and I think I can get used to the gloves. I am certainly feeling braver !

The back of the block

Thread Charts are Stars

Last evening I received a surprise photo, and email message, from a long term customer. It was such a lovely message, and it was obvious that Juliet was  so excited that I asked for her permission to share her thoughts here.

Firstly look at the beautiful quilt that she has just finished. She said: 

 I only started making it about 6 weeks ago and it is totally from short cuts of fabrics – which is why the background changes so much – almost all of which I found in my stash cupboard.”

Juliet’s “Star” quilt was stitched entirely with Aurifil threads

I always think it is so satisfying to finish a project, and to have made it from “found” fabric is very clever, but the message that really tickled me was when Juliet said:

“Hi Jenny,

I’ve been purchasing Cotton Mako from you for at least 8 or 9 years (I can find receipts in my file dating back that far), but today is the very first time, in all that time, that I have finished a quilt which is completely sewn (pieced and quilted) using my Aurifil thread.  In all that time, some (commonly available thread) has always snuck in somewhere.

 Since I recently bought from you my handy dandy Cotton Mako colour chart, I’m thinking that that has made it easier for me to order the right shade of colour from you, and so I don’t need to go to the local Spotlight and purchase the nasty alternatives.  Gosh darn it, if I’d known how easy it would be, I’d have bought one years ago! :o)

Anyway, here it is – my very first TOTALLY Aurifil quilt “

The colour chart that Juliet is talking about is the  thread wrapped Cotton Mako’ chart, shown below, but we also have thread wrapped charts for the Lana, Brillo & Aurilux threads.

The Aurifil Cotton Mako’ thread wrapped colour chart, showing just 108 of the 252 colours on the chart.

Having lived in country locations in the past, where it could be a 200 kilometre, or more, drive to the nearest shop selling textile products, I know the value of having a good stock of supplies on hand. 

Internet shopping has certainly simplified the distance shopping problem and, as Juliet said, a thread wrapped colour chart is the perfect tool to make choosing thread colours online easy.

A colour chart is also a great help if you are working through the old threads in your cupboard, replacing those other brands with Aurifil.   

I really enjoy the conversations, and correspondence, that I have with customers.

Sometimes, when life events slow down their stitching, I may not hear from someone for a year or more but they always come back to us when they return to their patchwork, quilting and embroidery.  So, at Always Quilting we have many long term customers from around Australia and New Zealand, that we have never met in person, making a message like this was very special. 

If you have a similar story of a project completely stitched with Aurifil threads please write to us, we love to hear your stories and see your work.