Sarah is our Queen of machine Embroidery on the Aurifil team!

Hi I’m Pat Sloan, the Aurifil Designer of the Month coordinator. I’d like to introduce you to our March Aurifil Designer, Sarah Vedeler!

Sarah is our Queen of machine Embroidery on the Aurifil team! I must tell you that until I’d seen Sarah’s work I was not sure how I could use machine embroidery. Sarah’s unique collections are stunning, so stunning she has already started to win awards for her quilts! Let’s meet Sarah and see her dazzling “Eclipse” project, which she has in 2 sizes!

We are encouraging you each month to make our designers project. Post your photo at our Flickr folder and one quilter will win a prize of Aurifil thread! Post a photo of your completed top anytime before Feb 1, 2012
Flickr folder –

I hope you enjoy meeting Sarah and learning about her work. And I can’t wait to see your version of “Eclipse”!

Visit Sarah Vedeler
FaceBook –

Also listen to my interview with Sarah on August 16, 2010 scroll down to the podcast

1. When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting? If not, what did?

The first time I remember seeing a quilt was when I was looking to buy my first sewing machine here in the USA, towards the end of 2001. I had been borrowing my father-in-laws sewing machine (a very basic Janome), which he wanted back. While looking for my new sewing machine, I discovered two things… embroidery machines and the software that went with them that allowed you to create your own embroidery designs, and quilts.

I saw free motion quilting and wanted to be able to do it – only I figured I would never be able to do it well enough. But… I can do pretty much anything with a PC, so if I had embroidery software and an embroidery machine, I could digitize my own quilting designs and use the embroidery machine to do the quilting. So this is what I started to do. Life as a Labyrinth was quilted this way – digitized quilting designs stitched out using the embroidery machine, and it was even juried into the Husqvarna Viking Masterpieces of Spirit and Strength Gallery of Quilt Art 2003, and traveled around the world for 2 years as part of an exhibition.

After 108 hoopings to do the quilting, which took 24 hours over the course of 3 days, I decided that maybe this wasn’t the best way to quilt a quilt, and learning how to do free motion quilting would probably be a lot easier!

Having gotten started down the quilting path, Ricky Tims has been a HUGE inspiration to my development. I watched Ricky’s “Quilting Caveman Style” DVD just before meeting Ricky in person for the first time at a Harmonic Convergence workshop that he taught in Albuquerque in 2003. For someone who is one of the biggest perfectionists on the planet, quilting caveman style was totally liberating! Ricky and his quilts (Bohemian Rhapsody and Songe d’Automne in particular) are pretty much responsible for my love affair with applique, although I chose to see how I could use my embroidery machine to do the stitching and it all grew from there!

2. What is your favorite type of quilt or quilt pattern?

I absolutely love quilted feathers. I love to look at feathers quilted by other people, I love to quilt them myself, and I love to teach other people how to quilt them (my style)! One of the most satisfying things as a teacher is to see someone quilt their own feathers as a result of attending my Quilted All Over class.

3. We all have parts of the process we ‘prefer’ more than others. What part of quilt making do you ‘Prefer’ most and why?

I love which ever part of the process I am working on right now! Designing can be very contemplative – and it can also be very thrilling, especially when I’ve had an idea buzzing around in my head and all of a sudden I “see the light” as it were, and it all comes together. Choosing fabric and thread is a very hands on experience, as well as a very visual experience. Cutting is a good experience – as long as I have a sharp blade in my rotary cutter. Then comes the embroidery. OK, so this can get a little tedious, especially if there is a lot of repetitive stitching to do, but the first time of stitching a design is usually quite exciting. This is where the thread colors start to have a real impact and make the design come alive. Watching the embroidery machine at work can be quite mesmerizing – sometimes you just have to sit and watch it stitching! If there’s a whole lot of stitching to be done with no thread changes looming, and all my prep-work is done, I’ll take the opportunity to sit and read while the machine does its work.

If I was forced to pick just one part of the process over any other, quilting would be a big contender. With the exception of the spines for my feathers, all of my quilting is unmarked. This is when I get to play, and the quilting generally doesn’t have too much planning to it, it’s just what comes out of the end of the needle! It can be a very meditative experience, often times my mind gets out of the way and ideas flow. I do need to remember to get up and move around every now and then otherwise my body starts to rebel, especially my shoulders.

I nearly always finish my quilts with a piped binding. I love to do the final in-the-ditch stitching that finishes the binding – largely because it means that the end is usually only minutes away!

4. Do you do other crafts now? Did you do those BQ ‘Before Quilting’, what types of ‘stuff making’ do you connect with the most??

I certainly do! I love to knit, crochet and tat. When I go to visit my parents, I’ll take a knitting, crochet or tatting project along to work on. As they live in Sweden, visits are usually for 2-3 weeks, so there is lots of time to sit and chat – and work on the project at the same time. As my daughters get older, I can see myself doing more of this while watching them do their after school activities. I can’t sit still and do nothing for longer than about 5 minutes!

I recently discovered the art of Kumihimo – Japanese braid making. Still learning about this, and finding it a little frustrating as I don’t yet know enough to start creating my own braid designs! I’ve dabbled in making things with polymer clay, love to go and paint pots with the girls, used to always be folding paper (origami), making paper boxes. Did some acrylic painting for a while. I visited the Wedgewood factory in England on one visit back home a few years ago and threw my very first pot! I’d like to do more of this – maybe when I retire ☺ One of these years I want to start dying my own fabric. I love to be creating things with my hands.

Curiously, hand quilting has never appealed to me. I did counted cross stitch as a child and had fun with it. Hand applique on wool felt has some appeal. So many things to do… so little time to do them all!

5. Did you have a career prior to making art, and what was it? Do you still do that career while having your design business? If you’ve always done art, did you do another type before quilt making?

I was a software engineer/project manager before emerging as a quilt designer. Actually, to be more precise, I was a software engineer/project manager before becoming a mother. I have a PhD in Computer Science, and spent many hours/days/years sitting in front of a computer writing software (COBOL and C++ being my main languages, with a few others thrown in). When I got pregnant with Heather, my eldest daughter, my brain “reformatted” itself quite radically. What was previously easy to read and understand became totally unintelligible and looked a whole lot like gobbledygook. It was as if the left side of my brain (the logical side needed as a software engineer) decided that it had had enough, while the right side of my brain (the creative center) decided to take complete control. All in all, it was a very strange experience. It was a really good thing that I was able to leave my job and become a stay-at-home Mom as I think I would have been fired sooner rather than later if I had stayed in my pre-pregnancy job. It wasn’t until Jasmine, my second daughter, was born 4 years later that my brain felt like it was becoming more balanced and “normal” again.

Sarah Vedeler Designs is the only “work” that I do right now, for which I am extremely grateful. My background as a software engineer definitely plays a part in what I do, although it is more in the capacity to use the tools that are available, rather than being the person who creates the tools in the first place, as it was before.

6. How do you fill your soul? What I mean by this is – what makes you SO HAPPY that you know that if you do this you are experiencing a little ‘Heaven on Earth’.

Listening to my daughters laugh! When they get going (Heather is 9, Jasmine is 5), they are totally hysterical, and their laugh is infectious. Just the other day, they were watching outtakes of a movie on a DVD and laughing hysterically at it. It was pretty much impossible not to join in, not because what they were watching was so funny (at least not in my opinion!), but because they were so free and full of joy. This is Heaven on Earth!

7. When you start a new project do you have a ritual you follow? Like cleaning your work area, buying a new tablet to sketch in, or maybe having a new bag of M&M’s on hand!

No! It’s hard to identify the real “start” of a project. Is it the designing, or is it when the fabric and thread finally get involved? Cleaning my work area sounds like it would be a really good ritual to start for when the fabric and thread get involved!

8. Do you have a process to get your ideas started? I use a theme and words. Some people use photos, fabric swatches… etc

No. Stuff usually just comes to me; I don’t necessarily go looking for it! Often times when I’m driving – especially if I’m driving through beautiful countryside, not so much around town – I can get my head out of the way and ideas start to flow. Sometimes I’ll see something that gets the creative juices flowing. Just the other day I saw a chair that all of a sudden became an idea for a purse. There isn’t much rhyme or reason behind it. Sitting in the sun is always a good thing for ideas to start flowing. And free motion quilting too.

9. What is your favorite weight of Aurifil thread? What are your ‘go to’ thread colors?

50 weight Cotton Mako is my absolute favorite – which is why my 3 AURIfil collections are all 50 weight! I love to use this for all my piecing, quilting and embroidery. If I’m doing “regular” machine applique, I use 28 weight Cotton Mako. It gives such a well-defined line of stitching with a single blanket stitch – if I were to use the 50wt, I would need to do a triple blanket stitch to get the same density of thread, so it’s a real time saver.

My “go to” colors are: 4020 Fuchsia, 1147 Lt Leaf Green, 2535 Magenta, 2810 Turquoise. I could sit and look at these colors all day!

10. Besides your sewing machine, what are the tools you MUST have when you quilt?

My Gingher limited edition rotary cutters. Apart from being beautiful to look at, they are so nice to use. And with a new blade, they cut fabric like a hot knife cuts butter!

My thread snips – Rainbow Easy Kut – which I now have hanging from a string attached to my sewing machine. They are great for snipping threads really close to the fabric, such as tail ends from embroidery, or start and end threads when I am quilting. They have fallen off onto my tile floor so many times and bent the tips that I finally figured that if I tied them to the machine so that they couldn’t hit the floor, they would last a lot longer! And the girls don’t walk off with them anymore either, which is an added bonus.

For free motion quilting, my SewSlip mat. It significantly reduces friction to make moving the fabric a lot easier and hence the quilting is a lot smoother.

Also for free motion quilting, some good music playing! It makes the world of difference – helps me to get into a relaxed groove.

11. Do you travel to teach? And if so, how often and what types of groups? Guilds, stores, retreats, big shows? Is there a schedule on your blog or website?

I do travel to teach. My goal is no more than one out of town trip a month, mainly to stores. There is a schedule on my blog – although it’s not necessarily up to date! I also go to 3 major shows each year – International Quilt Market in Spring and Fall, and Bernina University which is usually in July.

12. How would you describe your personality? Are you process oriented, detailed, big picture, are you carefree, structured, unstructured, all over the place depending on the project?

Perfectionist. Intense. I’m really good at seeing the big picture, but can also get right down to the tiny details. If I can get myself organized enough to get a to-do list written down, I stay fairly organized and structured. If not, I can get into a state of chaos really quickly! I really like my routines – if they get messed up, then so do I. I recently figured out that my kitchen stays organized because everything has its own spot, and everyone knows where that spot is – it’s orderly. I’m endeavoring to apply this philosophy to the rest of the house, and my studio in particular. Still got a lot of work to do on that one!

13. If you could train with, or work with, or follow one person for a day… who would it be and why?

It would be Alex Veronelli from AURIfil! One of the things on my to-do list is to go to visit the AURIfil factory in Milano to find out live and in person how this thread that I use is created, every step of the way. I also want to see the embroidery studio that is AURIfil’s sister company – they are doing amazing things with amazing machines.

14. Anything else you’d like to share?

Someone sent me an email the other day, telling me about the impact my work has had on her life. This lady suffered brain damage as a result of toxic poisoning. She says, “Your works are what have drawn parts of my brain awake and the desire to create back.” I can’t tell you how exciting this is to hear. She goes on to say, “Everyone thinks I am setting myself up for disaster even attempting your works. I say, it’s a disaster not to attempt them.” What I would say to anyone who looks at a quilt design, or any other kind of pattern, and thinks I’d love to create that but I don’t know how or I don’t have it in me – I say do it anyway, it’s a disaster not to attempt it. It’s never the final result that is important; it’s the joy of creating it in the first place that really counts.

And a few on the light side… answer ones that apply
• The Book you are currently reading
◦ The Soulmate Secret by Arielle Ford (mine is out there somewhere, I just haven’t found him yet!)
◦ Living Your Best Year Ever by Darren Hardy (I’m expecting great things when I get to the end of this one!)
◦ Affinity and Affection, A Pride and Prejudice What If Story by Susan Adriani (Pride and Prejudice is my very favorite book of all time, P&P variations and what if stories are my read-in-the-bath-tub and while on the stationary bike books!)
• Your Favorite Movie
◦ Pride and Prejudice (A&E version)
◦ Pride and Prejudice (with Keira Knightley)
◦ Mamma Mia!
• A Song that makes you ‘dance the happy dance’
◦ Walking on Sunshine, Catrina and the Waves
• The Color you have always LOVED…..
◦ I don’t think there’s any one color, all the bright and sparkly jewel colors as a collection!

*************************** THE PATTERN/The Giveaway ****************************

CLICK HERE To download the PDF pattern part 1
CLICK HERE To download the PDF pattern part 2

Right click here and Save Target As… to download the embroidery files

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made one of the Designer projects to receive a special Aurifil thread prize.. wowzer!! keep post all year as you can finish a top or project at any time until February 1, 2012

You can make ANY of the designer projects (and we hope you make them all!)

Share your photos at our Flickr Folder… we can’t WAIT to see what you do!

***************************Join us at FACEBOOK ****************************
Become a member of the AURlfil fan page on Facebook

Join Sarah at

and I hope you join me, Pat Sloan, at my facebook FUN PAGE
And read my daily blog


  1. Great interview, Pat. I think Sarah is my new hero! Remarkably I have the same dream to travel to Milano, Italy and visit the Aurifil factory. I really like your quilt, too.

  2. I’m so very happy to see Sarah as the Aurifil designer of the month. She is the person that has had the most influence on me falling in love with Aurifil. I have heard from many talented people that love Aurifil, but when I saw Sarah’s work with Aurifil I had to buy her Stars collection and instantly connected with it for sewing, quilting, and machine embroidery. Of course, I do love Sarah’s eye for color & design in quilting and machine embroidery….and have fallen in love with Aurifil’s colors too. This makes me understand why Sarah was drawn to Aurifil, in addition to their thread quality.

    I’m so looking forward to her trip to the Aurifil factory and hearing her insights on thread manufacturing. I would also love to see her have time in Italy, as I’m sure it will influence her future designs. Can’t wait to hear her insights after this visit.


  3. Awesome interview and project from Sarah. I love all of her designs. Is there somewhere to get the machine embroidery circles that are referred to as an option in the pattern?

  4. I loved the Eclipse quilt the moment that I saw it. The colors and simplicity of the design are fantastic, and Sara’s quilted feathers are incredible. Like Sara, I’m a perfectionist, so it was really nice to get to read the interview with her since it let me see that even perfectionists can learn to be free in doing their FMQ. Very interesting person! Thank you for interviewing her and giving us this fabulous pattern!

  5. Sarah’s work is awesome – I’m glad she decided to leave her software engineering job too!

  6. Circles are one my favorite designs.. I don’t have an Embroidery machine but have a circle maker for my Baby-Lock machine. So I plan to get started soon on this quilt. Thanks for the pattern. Pat’s interview was fun. Both of you are.

    I have been out of the ‘loop’ for so long that I forgot I once could write a COBOL program! The PC has me so spoiled.

  7. Thanks for your wonderful comments everyone!

    Deb: the embroidery files are now also included in the article, just underneath the 2 PDFs that you can download. Slight technical hitch there, but all better now!

    1. thanks Sarah! I just purchases your single heart pattern to try the technique before diving into something more complex! I want to make them all!!

  8. Great article and a very deserving designer.

    We just love your work Sarah. Keep on keeping on, please.
    Someday I’m going to come and take one of your machine quilting
    Now back to embroidery on the Hearts quilt.

  9. The art aspect of these pieces is so expressive, bright and happy. To achieve the look of these feelings, many, many different techniques and variations on those techniques. Very inspiring article and it’d be great to be a winner of some scrumptious looking thread.

    Thank you so much.

  10. Ola! Mako,
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