My July Island Batik Challenge

The July challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors was “Artsy Fartsy,” and it was to showcase the beautiful Aurifil threads that are included in our twice yearly boxes. Aurifil is a partner in the Island Batik Ambassador program and as such has always been generous in sharing their threads with us.

I’ve been an Aurifil user for years, well before the Ambassador program. I love how low lint they are, and how perfectly they stitch! I can honestly say that both my piecing and my quilting improved after I tried Aurifil. No kidding.

Aurifil Threads - A Guide

So for the benefit of those of you who may not be as familiar with Aurifil, let me present this quick tutorial.

As you can see, Aurifil threads have different colored spools. The orange spools you see here are 50 wt. good for both piecing and quilting.

The green spools are 40 wt. which you can also use for piecing although I typically don’t. I use 40 wt for quilting and for machine applique. 40 wt is thicker than 50 wt by just a touch, so it’s more visible. Choose it when you want your quilting to show just a bit more than normal.

The grey spools are 28 wt. Because this thread is even thicker than 40 wt, use it when you want a decorative touch. For example,if you are adding a decorative stitch to the edges of your applique (such as a blanket stitch), use 28 wt for a bold look. You can quilt with 28 wt like I did in my challenge quilt, and it will be visible and add a nice texture. You can also hand-quilt with this thread.

Not shown because I didn’t use them in my piece but also included in my Island Batik box are these threads: the red spool on the left is 12 wt. and it’s perfect for sashiko, redwork, and other hand embroidery. It’s also a good choice in art quilting where you want the stitches to be an integral part of the piece.

The natural colored spool second from the left is Aurifloss, which is suited for embroidery just like other floss. The red spool third from the left is 12 wt. wool thread (actually, it’s a blend of wool and acrylic) that’s perfect for woolwork embroidery. The darker natural colored spool on the right is 80 wt. Because it’s so thin, this thread is perfect for hand piecing and applique, English paper piecing, “invisible” machine applique, and quilting.

Aurifil also makes other threads including an awesome invisible thread and a special thread designed just for the longarm that they call FortyThree (40 wt. 3-strand thread designed to take the stress of high-speed quilting). Always in Stitches (the quilt shop where I work) carries Aurifil threads so they keep me supplied.

My Quilt

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to showcase these wonderful threads in a quilt, and I came up with several ideas. I often sit on ideas while they gel until something nudges me in the right direction. I finally got the nudge after scanning through some photos and finding this one, of a cardinal on our bird feeder in the dead of winter.

I didn’t copy the photo exactly in my quilt, as you can see. I added another cardinal because just one seemed to lonely. I used a yellow and green batik as the background instead of the light grey of our house because I liked how the red cardinal fabric looked with it. I moved the spruce tree closer to the feeder than it was in the photo to improve the composition and I added less snow to its branches because I felt that the hint of snow was enough.

Here’s my quilt, which I’m calling Wintertide.

I used fusible machine applique to create Wintertide. I started with the feeder and the cardinals because they seemed the easiest to do. I built the feeder on my pressing sheet and then fused it in place as a whole unit onto the backing. Next, I added the cardinals and fused them in place.

I edge stitched the feeder and cardinals to finish them, using 50 wt threads in the following colors: #2846 Iceberg, #2260 Red Wine, #2692 Black and #2235 Orange.

To simulate the browner feathers of a female cardinal, I overstitched them with 80 wt. #2372 Dark Antique Gold.

Next, I started cutting and fusing the branches of the spruce. I used a variety of blue greens and greens to create a rich tapestry of color. To add the texture of the branches, I machine stitched their edges with spikes of thread. Here I varied not only the color but the thread weight in the hopes of creating a more natural look.

I used the following threads to embellish the branches: 28 wt. #1125 Medium Teal and #2890 Very Dark Grass Green; 40 wt. #2890 Very Dark Grass Green and #2885 Medium Spruce; and 50 wt. #4093 Jade, #5013 Asphalt, #4129 Turf Green, #2785 Very Dark Navy, and #4644 Smoke Blue.

I didn’t need to quilt in the spruce area because I’d done all that texture stitching. So I quilted only in the background areas, using 50 wt. #4129 Turf Green. I wanted to emphasize the wintery feel so I chose a swirly, windy pattern.

As i often do, I used scraps for the back, binding, and hanging sleeve.

Here are the quilt details:

17-1/4” x 20-1/2"
Original Design
Fabrics: Island Batik scraps, including #121815843 Paisley Tree Peacock from the Elk Lodge collection for the Background, #BE32-F4 Nutmeg for the backing, and Pinecone for the binding.
Batting: Hobbs Batting 80/20
Piecing Thread: Aurifil 50 wt. #2610 (Light Blue Grey)
Quilting Thread: Aurifil 50 wt. #4129 (Turf Green)
Applique and Embellishment Threads: 28 wt. #1125 Medium Teal and #2890 Very Dark Grass Green; 40 wt. #2890 Very Dark Grass Green and #2885 Medium Spruce; and 50 wt. #2846 Iceberg, #2260 Red Wine, #2692 Black, #2235 Orange, #2372 Dark Antique Gold, #4093 Jade, #5013 Asphalt, #4129 Turf Green, #2785 Very Dark Navy, and #4644 Smoke Blue.
Pieced and quilted by Jennifer Fulton

Next month, our challenge is to create a star quilt. Wish me luck in getting my quilt done more quickly! Actually, this challenge only applies to half of us, as the other Ambassadors are participating in a blog hop featuring the Spring 2017 collection. The blog hop begins Monday. Come back then when I post the schedule and links to every blog. The collections are gorgeous and you won’t want to miss the hop (or the giveaways!)

So What Are You Working On?

Thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here, why not take a moment and share what you’ve been working on in my weekly show-and-tell linkup, Wednesday Wait Loss? Click here to read all about it and to link up a photo.

Disclosure: The products featured here were provided to me free of charge by Island Batik, Aurifil, Hobbs, and AccuQuilt GO!

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Tell me..have you tried Aurifil? what’s your favorite type of thread and why?

I really appreciate your comments. Please leave an email address so I can thank you personally!

I really appreciate your comments. Please leave an email address so I can thank you personally!