Aurifil's 2012 Designer program is ready to kick off!
Snowbird Pillow!

January Aurifil project ... Snowbird ... behind the scenes!

Snowbird block
Hopefully by now you've been over to Aurifil Thread's blog and have downloaded by Snowbird block. I loved making this ... so much, in fact, that I have a second started! I cannot wait to see what the other designers have in mind for their blocks. There are some talented gals with thread and needles in this group!

A tip on printing your patterns ... the size of the design you'll be tracing should be 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" ... that's measuring from the S to the beak on the bird. If it's way off, you might want to either adjust your printing configurations or reduce or enlarge a bit after you print a copy. The center of the block after the sashing finishes at 6" so you need to be sure the stitching is in proportion.

You've probably wondered how we all picked thread colors ... it's not like we live near each other after all! It started with getting a pack of Layer Cakes from Moda ... we were sent the Sassy line to work with. I was delighted to see it had a lot of teal colors because I knew what I wanted my block to look like ... kind of frosty! We're using fabrics from the line to sash around our blocks and then the rest will be for other components of the wall hanging. Sassy is pretty new ... I bet your local quilt shop has some! Our background fabric is creamy colored so all of my threads really showed up well.

The question that always comes up at the store is how to get your pattern on to your fabric. It's so easy but you do need a few tools. Painter's tape is a great friend ... tape your pattern to your fabric on the backside after you center it ... then tape it in a few places on the front to hold it in place. It makes it pretty portable. I don't use a light box most of the time ... I'm kinda lazy that way ... but if I'm having trouble seeing through the fabric, I like to place a white piece of paper under the pattern and that really makes the design show up. If you don't have a light box you can use a window ... and if it's at night think about taping it to your computer or tv screen in a blank mode. As far as what to trace with ... I like to use a Papermate mechanical pencil or the new Frixion pens ... they iron out when you're done. I don't trace every element ... French knots or the slanting stitches that fill in the branch and words look so much better if you free hand them. Try it!

I'm sort of weird when it comes to the back of my embroidery pieces. I like them to look nice and neat. Most of the time I stitch with Quilter's Dream Select batting on the back ... I like how it gives a little bit of a quilty look to my stitches. It's really thin so by the time you're done you can still sew and batt a quilt without issues. For this piece they asked that we not use anything behind our work ... had to be extra neat so no threads showed on the front! I knotted the thread behind a stitch once or twice to hold them tight ... really important when you do those French Knots because you don't want them to pull out. We are using Aurifil's 12 wt thread for the projects ... it's like using two strands of floss. It rises above the surface a tiny bit as you stitch which looks pretty great! This was my first time using it and I have to say I'm impressed with how nice it looks and how easy it was to work with. There are a million colors to choose from ... so beautiful!

The bulk of my stitching project is stitched with a back stitch ... it's my go-to for most things because it's easy to learn. French Knots take a tiny bit of practice but aren't that hard to learn ... and the slant stitches for filling in the branches and words ... piece of cake! I taught myself to stitch using books ... my favorite is the Coats and Clark one ... I have three. Look for them at estate sales! But with the internet you can easily find instructions. My favorite are the lessons here ... or here on Thread n' Needle. Practice in the margin if it's new to you!

Hooping is a personal thing! For this project I did ... when I put batting behind, most of the time I don't. If you use a hoop don't forget ... unhoop it when you're done working on your project! Those hoop lines are hard to iron out ... not that I'd know or anything. I used an 8" hoop and cut my stitching fabric 11" x 11".

I hope you really enjoy the Aurifl project this year! My block is six inches ... some of the others are smaller ... it could easily be a night of stitching with your friends. We're having a sew and stitch on January 21 if you live in the area ... I'll teach you first hand all of my tricks! If you live somewhere else, ask your quilt shop owner if you can meet at her place once a month.

I'm working on an additional project with my block ... check back over the weekend to see if it's done. And don't forget to circle the first Thurday of February so you can see what my pal Sherri Falls from This and That has for you!

If you want a thread kit, email me at [email protected] and I'll add you my the list. We'll have them in a few weeks. You can keep up with all the fun on Facebook. Let me know what you think!