Hoopla 2

Last month I blogged about displaying work in hoops. Today I want to share another project displayed this way.

I love working with wool felt and Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 12 (on the red spool).  I love the colours available and the ease of sewing. The cotton just glides through the fabric. Aurifil Lana (Australian wool and acrylic mix, also 12 weight and on a red spool) is also ideal for this work.  I decided to make a hanging using  my collection of wool felt in bright cheerful colours and a selection of co-ordinating Aurifil Cotton Ne 12 threads.

I gathered some resources for inspiration and technical know-how and started designing my project.  I especially found the work of Wendy Williams (http://www.flyingfishkits.com.au) and Sue Spargo (http://www.suespargo.com) helpful.

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Design inspiration

I drafted my design on paper to give me an idea of placement and proportion, though as you might notice, I later changed some of the embellishment details.

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A rough draft which I later altered.

I like the addition of rick rack in my projects and so I incorporated this here.

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Using rick rack for the stems.

Next came the first flowers.

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Arranging the flower components and selecting the thread colour.

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Adding the embroidery.


Then some  leaves.

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Adding and embellishing leaves.

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Two different leaves and a stem.

I created a large flower.

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Adding embroidery to the large flower.

When I had completed all my stitching I needed to place my work into its hoop and back it.

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Securing my work in the hoop.

I described this process in my previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/hoopla/

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Stitching on the felt backing.

My hanging is complete.

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This was such a delightful little project to make, I’ll definitely be making more items like this!

Hearts for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching and heart-shaped items are everywhere at present. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t ignore the importance of the heart as a design shape and most of us would have used it at some point in our projects.

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Hearts feature in my quilt Baltimore Basket (designed by Sheri Wilkinson Lalk)



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One of the blocks in my Queen Square quilt (designed by Sue Ambrose)


I recently came across a sweet little pattern on the internet that I am currently making. Designed by Cheryl Fall, it is available to freely download. http://embroidery.about.com/od/Embroidery-Patterns-Projects/ss/Paisley-Hearts-3-Piece-Pattern-Set.htm#step-heading

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My pattern printed from the internet download.

Rather than the traditional red colourway used in the original embroidery, I am stitching mine in blue as this fits my decor. I am also using cotton fabric as my background in place of linen.
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Using Aurifil 12 weight thread for embroidery.

You are only limited by your imagination here. These designs would also look terrific made with wool felt using Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) thread.

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Stitching on wool felt with Lana for a different look.


I tried a number of different products to transfer the design, but had trouble seeing them. I required a mark I could clearly see, yet one which I could successfully remove at the end of the stitching.  I remembered a friend telling me about the “Frixion” pens, so I gave this a go and found it worked well.  This is a product by Pilot, available in a range of colours and nib sizes. Heat removes the marks, so ironing will take the marking out. If you don’t want to flatten your work with the iron, just hovering over it would probably work.  I did not try using warm- hot water. Marks can apparently reappear at below freezing point (I don’t plan to be in such an environment!) , so if you accidentally remove marks before you are ready, I imagine a short while in the freezer will restore them!  As with any marking item, use with discretion. This tool worked brilliantly for my purpose here, but I would probably be loath to use it on heirloom items, because I don’t know its long-term effects.

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I have a little way to go before I am finished, but the beauty of these small items is that they are easily achievable and I might even complete these in time for Valentine’s Day (this year!)

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Stitching progress so far.


Maybe a little stitching before dinner….?



Aurifil and Cross-stitch.

In the 1980s and early 90s, before I was bitten by the patchwork bug, I did a lot of cross-stitch. Consequently, I have many cross-stitch patterns, and yes, a number of UFOs!!

Quite a high proportion of the patterns feature patchwork in some form…was this a portent of things to come? This is one of my completed projects from about 16 years ago. (The non-reflective glass makes the photo a bit hazy).

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Strawberries Forever by Told in a Garden Designs

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Close up of Strawberries Forever.

I still engage in some cross-stitch, but these days much of my stitching time is devoted to patchwork.

Recently however, I decided that one of the yet-to-make patterns would be ideal to hang in my new patchwork studio. It is called “Home of a Quilter”,  another pattern by Told in a Garden designs.

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Previously, all my cross-stitch work was done with stranded thread (before my enlightenment into the benefits and pleasures of working with Aurifil Threads).  For this new project however, I was keen to use Aurifil. I am stitching on 14 count Aida and I chose to work with Cotton Mako Ne 12, the thickest of the Aurifil cottons. (That’s the one on the red spool). I have done many stitchery projects with this weight thread and so felt very comfortable working with it. It glides through the fabric beautifully and yippee!  No more having to strip the individual strands of thread!

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Threads used in my current project.


Although my pattern does not require outline stitching, I will probably use Cotton Mako Ne 28 to highlight a few of the paler colours.

It is possible to use the finer Aurifil threads for cross-stitch too. Jenny has completed two little kit projects which use Cotton Mako Ne 28 (on the grey spool). The 28 weight thread gives a very crisp look to each stitch.

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Jenny’s “Spring”cross-stitch using 28 weight thread.

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Jenny’s “Autumn” cross-stitch, also using 28 weight thread.

These are from the Four Seasons Collection, and as the name implies, these are available in 4 different designs, one for each season. To view these in the Always Quilting online shop, go to http://www.alwaysquilting.com.au/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=231 These designs also utilise some of the variegated colours in the Aurifil range. Each kit contains 4 spools of thread and the pattern and is excellent value for money.

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Two of the “Seasons” collections: Spring (left) and Autumn (right).

If you have a pattern which lists stranded thread colours and you wish to convert them to Aurifil, you can visit http://www.brodibuta.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49:conversion&catid=36:bonus&Itemid=49 or read Jenny’s blog post http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/how-can-you-substitute-aurifil-threads-to-use-for-all-your-embroidery-designs/

Not all stranded threads have a recommended Aurifil conversion colour, but with 270 colours in the current Aurifil range, there is sure to be something suitable.

I have been working on my current cross-stitch for just over 3 weeks and am about  a quarter of the way through it. This is the portion I have completed so far.

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Partially completed “Home of a Quilter”.

Hopefully I will have the stitching finished soon, so that this will be ready to hang in the new year…I’ll keep you posted!


Quilting the 21st C Round Robin

Further to my post on 25 July 2014, about the Round Robin blocks we organised at Always Quilting, I had lots of fun quilting my “Modern Quilt”.
threads I need to tick it off the list of things to do – as I know that the year is racing along and it has to be completed as soon as I can.  The pile of other projects to be completed is increasing rather than decreasing, and I find if I can get a small project quilted I feel a sense of accomplishment.

More quilting

After looking at this little quilt for ages, I decided to machine quilt wavy lines, and then circles in certain areas to mimic the pattern already there.

Yellow thread

The machining was done with the wonderful Ne 40 – in matching colours to the fabrics  1148,1135,4250(a variegated) and 2525.

quilted circles

I found Aurifil has a gorgeous variegated gold (3920) in the colours I wanted. The  more subtle change of the Ne 12 which I used for all the  hand quilting  was just perfect.

Quilting Thread

Now all I have to do is put a binding on the quilt – that is the next decision to be made – will I do a traditional binding  ??or one that is less obvious??  I call it ‘bagging the quilt out I don’t know the ‘correct’ term – but it means the binding is not obvious  on the front – more like a facing used in dressmaking.  So – still a little bit more work before I can display it properly!


Round Robin Blocks for the 21st Century

This year we have been “Taking the Round Robin into the 21st Century” as a challenge at our work.  In February each staff member had to bring a 6 inch starter block in a designated colour from the colour wheel.  This week we took possession of ‘our’ block and now we have to  feature Aurifil threads on it to make it into a mini quilt with quilting and/or embellishments.

Back in February, I had to work with the colour Violet and make a 6 inch block.

Starting block

Then every two months we were  to add borders of different sizes to each relevant quilt block.  Round two of mine was made by Judy using  a red-orange colour to create an asymmetrical border on four sides.

RR Block 2

Then Yellow was choice of colour for Jenny, with an even size border on four sides ( no more than 3 inch wide) added.

Round Robin block 3

Finally, a border on two sides, no more than 3 inches wide was added by Denise in Blue Green

Round Robin Block 4

Here are all the quilts (hung over some of the batting in the shop) showing the results.  It will be fascinating to see what everyone chooses to do with their individual quilts.

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 no.1

And a closer look of them (Jenny and Judy’s):

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Jenny and Judy

and the other two (mine and Denise’s):

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Heather and Denise

We have been given some time to finish the quilts as they will be displayed at the Melbourne Wholesale Quilt Market in November – and if we are really keen and finish them before hand, someone may even blog about them earlier!!

Wednesday Wonder: Windflower Embroidery with Aurifil Lana

I love seeing projects that people have made using Aurifil threads, so it was a treat to have Janet Kerton call into the showroom today.

Janet is the owner of Windflower Embroidery, where she specialises in creating & teaching embroidery, particularly wool embroidery and applique.


This delightful folding book design can be used as an embroidery compendium, or as jewellery storage folder, and it is one of Janet’s current teaching projects.

The felted wool applique has been embroidered with Aurifil Lana, a wool blend thread that is ideal for hand embroidery, applique and embellishment.

A selection of the 180 colours available in the Aurifil Lana range

A selection of the 192 colours available in the Aurifil Lana range

With the wonderful colour range in the Lana wool blend there is plenty of choice for creating  beautiful projects.

Spools of Aurifil Lana, wool blend thread

Visit our online store to see the range in greater detail, or to purchase your own set of threads.

Tuesday Treats: Marg Low, a pattern designer worthy of a mention

Over the years we have put together a selection of  Cotton Mako’ 12 thread packs for Marg Low to stitch her delightful embroidery patterns.

Marg Low Designs can be found at many of the craft shows around Australia

Marg Low Designs can be found at many of the craft shows around Australia

She is well known for her love of red …. fabrics and threads

You may have guessed that Marg loves to work with red and white

You may have guessed that Marg loves to work with red and white

But she does mix it up with other colours

The Country Garden pattern and thread set. Click on the photo to go to Marg Low's online store

The Country Garden pattern and thread set. Available from Marg Low Designs

It is well worth a visit to Marg’s blog to read more about her designs, and who can resist a visit to her online store when the patterns are so irresistible.

A Modern Welcome- Month 7

This month we will be adding the embroidery. I am using the Aurifil Ne12 wt in two colours.

Embroidery threads perfectly match my fabric

Embroidery threads perfectly match my fabric

I simply type in the words I want to Embroider in MS Word. I highlight the words and then audition fonts and letter sizes until I find one that I like.

Keep in mind that you will be embroidering these letters. Depending on your embroidery skills, the letters can be as plain or as fancy as you desire.

I used all Capital letters in the Ariel font.  Choose words for your BOM; print them; trace them onto your quilt top using a light-box or a window and a marking pencil. I used a Sewline pencil .

The letters were embroidered first in a chain stitch in one colour and then outlined using a back stitch in a second colour.

An outline with back stitch adds definition to your letters

An outline with back stitch adds definition to your letters

You are not limited to words. Ladybirdee has added embroidered vines and texture to her leaves in her Modern Welcome.

Ladybirdee's feathered friend applique design

Ladybirdee’s feathered friend appliqué design

Here are some hand embroidery stitches to get you started on the message for your wall hanging:

Jennie & Clara of Clover and Violet have a great set of “Embroidery 101” instructions, with clear illustrations, on their blog:

 Chain Stitch

 Back stitch

 Stem Stitch

Bari J of We Love French Knots has useful video instructions on her blog:

Back Stitch

Stem Stitch

Chain Stitch

Coral Stitch

We would love to know how you use your Ne12wt thread to enhance your projects.

Next Month, the quilting begins!

Tuesday Treats: One Aurifil size does NOT have to fit all (part 2)

Back in April I started a series about the different Cotton Mako’ thread weights to explain the place each thread weight can have in our textile tool kit.

The thread I wrote about then was Cotton Mako’ 40 , so this time I want to highlight what can be achieved with Cotton Mako’ 28.

Beautiful hand quilting by Judy Leckie

Beautiful hand quilting by Judy Leckie

Cotton Mako’ 28 is on the thicker side of the Cotton Mako’ range, making it perfect for traditional hand quilting.

I’ve always found that the threads, in other brands, that are especially treated for “hand” quilting  are stiff and springy and seem to have a mind of their own that doesn’t necessarily match with how I want the stitches to form.

So I love the way Cotton Mako’ 28 sits in the needle neatly, and the stitches form without any twisting or tangling.

More of Judy Leckie's beautiful hand quilting

More of Judy Leckie’s beautiful hand quilting

Like all the Mako’ range the 28 weight thread is mercerised, but does not have any of the waxing or glazing that can make those other threads so difficult to handle when hand quilting.

Cotton Mako' 28 is identified by the grey spool base.

Cotton Mako’ 28 is identified by the grey spool base.

Because the thread has not been waxed or glazed, Cotton Mako’ 28 is also suitable for use as a machine quilting thread.

In fact, it’s slightly thicker nature means that motifs and feature designs show up very nicely on the quilt top.

Machine Quilting motifs are clearly defined when stitched with Cotton Mako' 28

Machine Quilting motifs are clearly defined when stitched with Cotton Mako’ 28

However, I always think of Cotton Mako’ 28 as more than a quilting thread.

Try using it for hand & machine blanket stitch applique.

Hand blanket stitch with a single strand of cotton Mako' 28

Hand blanket stitch with a single strand of cotton Mako’ 28

or machine embroidery

Machine embroidery using Cotton Mako' 28

Machine embroidery using Cotton Mako’ 28

or hand embroidery.

My cross stitch has been stitched with a single strand of Cotton Mako’ 28 on size 14 Aida cloth.

Cross Stitch and hand embroidery using Cotton Mako' 28

Cross Stitch and hand embroidery using Cotton Mako’ 28

And the most surprising use of all, given the slightly thicker nature of the thread.

Some people choose it as their preferred hand piecing thread, especially if they use a small running stitch.

You can load the needle with many stitches when hand piecing with Cotton Mako' 28

You can load the needle with many stitches when hand piecing with Cotton Mako’ 28

So, like all the threads in the Cotton Mako’ range, the Mako’ 28 is very versatile.

Once you have some in your thread stash you will keep finding more and more reasons to use this great thread.

The Simply colour thread Collection by Vanessa Christenson of "V & Co"

The Simply Colour thread Collection by Vanessa Christenson of “V & Co”

Read more about Cotton Mako’ 28:

 A review of the Aurifil range by Alyssa

Using Cotton Mako’ 28 for Cross Stitch

A vote for hand stitching

Space Maker Sale

You know the old saying that you accumulate possessions to fill the available space … well I think that the space must have shrunk as we have way more stock than can possibly fit in the space.

So we are having a
Space Maker Sale
at our online store with a great offer
save 50% off the price
for Aurilux thread.

Aurilux satin finished polyester (216 colours in the range)

Aurilux satin finished polyester (216 colours in the range)

Here on the blog, we seem to talk about the Cotton Mako’ & Lana threads all the time, but we have tended to overlook the Aurilux  threads .

It is a very sad comment on my passion for traditional patchwork which means that I  spend very little time doing machine embroidery, either digitized or free motion.

All my beautiful examples of Aurilux machine embroidery have been stitched by other people.

This pretty butterfly was designed & stitched in Aurilux by Janice Heitbaum

This pretty butterfly was designed & stitched in Aurilux by Janice Heitbaum

However, my preference for patchwork does mean that I can happily confirm that the Aurilux (polyester) is great for machine quilting when you want to add a touch of glitz to the project.

It is a machine embroidery thread, and therefore has a similar breaking strength to a cotton thread that you would usually choose for machine quilting, making it “safe” to use single lines of stitching.

Unlike Rayon, which can break when it is wet, polyester threads are colourfast and have a good wet strength so they will stand up well to any laundering that a quilt may need, making Aurilux polyester thread a good choice to add a highlight to your quilting.

Free motion quilting with variegated threads on black fabrics can be very effective.

Free motion quilting with variegated threads on black fabrics can be very effective.

Aurilux also creates a neat machine stitched edge for applique. try it for both blanket stitch and satin stitch and you will be very happy with the results.

Just a tempting taste of all the beautiful colours in the Aurilux range

Just a tempting taste of all the beautiful colours in the Aurilux range

So pop over to the online store to stock up on some well priced Aurilux threads to jazz up your next project.

For more ideas for stitching with Aurilux:

Jazz up a T-shirt with Aurilux

Glitz up for Spring

Making Coasters with Aurilux

Using Aurilux to embellish an art piece