January 2014 Designer of the Month Brigitte Heitland

2014 Brigitte Heitland Zen Chic Jan aurifil designer button

Hi this is Designer/Radio show host Pat Sloan! I’m once again honored to be hosting the Aurifil Designer of the Month program.  This year we selected a fresh clear palette of fabrics and invited a modern designer to create our January block.  I asked each designer to create a block for a woman who has inspired them. I’m looking forward to learning who sparks the creativity in each of these quilt designers this year.

We have a sew along with a MONTHLY thread BOX giveaway (seriously folks… you could win a box of my thread which is over $120.00 value.. for making a quilt block… you have to join in!).

And we have an added feature this year of a machine quilting tip from Natalia Bonner. Look for that at the end of each interview!

Our January Designer Brigitte Heitland is from Germany and her company name is Zen Chic. If you have been following her work it might have blown your socks off, it does mine! Brigitte has a way of taking modern, clean, and simple lines and making them sing. I find that people who don’t think they do ‘modern’ are buying up .. and making her designs. Her added quilting layer is a brilliant accent to her patchwork.  She has a degree in interior design, which you will instantly notice on her pattern covers. I want to remake my home every time she releases a new photo!

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Brigitte on June 6, 2012. You can CLICK HERE and scroll back on the player to listen

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a  block from our 2014 designers and that random person receives a FULL BOX of my Aurifil thread as the  prize! Winners are all contacted via Flickr email and posted at our FLICK GROUP HERE

Let’s get to it!

Zen Chic inspired to quilt

When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting? 

It was when I accidentally stumbled upon a book of Kaffe Fassett in a store. At that point I was already an experienced seamstress, but I had never heard of quilts before. These pictures sparked a desire to be able to make those quilts on my own.

Zen Chic first projects

Do you still have your first project you ever made? What was it?

My first patchwork project was a simple windmill table runner with half square triangles. I didn’t even know about something like a rotary cutter and cut out all triangle pieces with a pair of scissors. And I tried to get the seam as accurate as possible by placing two triangles on top of each other and feeding them through my machine. I think my technique back then was more like that of the American Pioneers. I gave this project to my mother who still uses it in her home.

Zen Chic what impresses me

When you go to a quilt show, what types of quilts are you drawn to?

There are two things I find irresistible: The one is skill in craftsmanship – no matter which style or fabrics the quilt has, an intricate quilting, a perfect piecing, an accurate appliqué has me oohing and aahing each time. The other thing is, of course, impressive modern design. It might be minimalist, or perfect choices of colors in a contemporary quilt that I find amazing.

This example shows my puzzle box quilt. Find a free tutorial on my blog CLICK HERE

love to design

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

The most exciting part of my quilt projects is the planning. I love to ponder ideas and enfold one of them, choose the perfect fabrics and measurements, design the top virtually on my computer screen, and I even love to do the math of planning this all. This is such an enjoyable part, since you can do a virtual quilt in a very short period of time, you can play with color variations, and if the result doesn’t please you, you can click onto DELETE and it won’t hurt as a failed sewn quilt would have done.


The part of the process I like least is the binding. I don’t mind hand stitching of the binding after it has been sewn onto the quilt edge and I can listen to an audiotape while I work; but I really don’t care for the sewing of the quilt edge itself. The thickness of all layers and the relatively tight seam allowance make me always a little bit grumpy.

Zen Chic my family

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’d say I had a career in-between making art. I was always committed to be creative and studied Interior and Textile Design as a young woman. But life happened and I had three children, stayed at home for a while and worked at an office as an accountant to support my family and my creativity faded into the background. At the age of 40 I felt a deep desire to get this creativity back into my life and this was the time when I found quilting and got passionate about it.

Zen Chic enjoying a scoop of icecream

What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?

Actually I live in a very small town of Werther, Germany (20.000 pop) and there are not many spectacular things to visit. We have a little something and this is the famous flavor of the ice cream in our parlor here. People come from all over to get it and on hot summer days you will find a buzzing like in a beehive. That’s when I like to stroll to our market place and get myself a delicious scoop of ice cream.

Zen Chic triangle sewing

Do you have a tip or trick to make your quilt making easier?

Today I sew my half square triangles much more efficiently and accurately, especially when I have to sew a whole bunch of them. I use the grid method. Now it’s just a piece of cake and I can do about 100 in just a bit more than one hour. 

Zen Chic Aurifil thread

What are your 3 favorite colors of Aurifil thread?  

That’s difficult to say. Of course, I could not manage without white, black, gray, or off-white. But that’s probably not what you wanted to know. My favorite colors? Actually I find the entire palette of intense hues very beautiful and well chosen; and whatever matches with my current collection soon becomes my favorite color. At the moment this means all the colors matching my new collection Sphere: blue, turquoise, and yellow.


I love also the new thread assortment especially created to accompany one of my newest patterns “Lemon Halftone”. Isn’t it just perfect, when you appliqué one project and you have all the colors in the perfect amount handy?

Lemon Halftone cover

If you want the pattern also as quickly, you can get an instant download PDF here http://bheitland.wix.com/zenchic#!buy-your-pdf-pattern

Zen Chic Studio

What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?  

I am happy to say that there is not one thing in my studio I would change. I did a make-over last winter, and now everything is exactly how I have always wanted it to be: an inviting and inspiring space, well organized with a place for everything I need, a large cutting island, fresh colors – in other words, it’s my dream studio


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

Naturally I have my idols among the Quilt-industy with whom I’d like to spend a day, because I would like to get to know their personality and their work methods. Denyse Schmidt has always been one of my idols and I would be really curious to spend a day with her.

WWC Quilters book

Anything else you’d like to share?

Since we have mentioned quilt idols, I think it is natural to have more than one role model or idol who inspires us in our work. There are so many interesting people, all with their own distinct artistic approach to quilt making. Just this past fall a new book has arrived on the marking featuring twenty interesting artists along with their workspace and their work. I was pleased and honored to have been invited to be part of this book; It is called simply “Quilters”.

Zen Chic BOM

What woman inspired your Quilt Block?  

My quilt block is the block “Spools”. First of all, because it is easy to sew, since it can be done with Precuts (which I find very appealing), and secondly because it can be sewn in a traditional style as well as in a fresh and modern style.

Zen Chic origins

Beyond that, I picked this block because the old spools reminded me of the woman to whom I owe my passion for sewing, namely my grandmother. When I was just a little girl she patiently showed me how to sew. I think it would make her really happy if she could see today how the seed which she had planted all those years ago has blossomed in such wonderful ways (the picture below is a drawing my daughter made for me as a memory of how I started sewing).


CLICK HERE to download the instructions for Chez Claire pattern


DOM Aurifil1

Zen Chic version of the Block of the Month – a table runner featuring the newest line Sphere.

Visit Brigitte at…





Pat Sloan bobbins and bits and bella 2

Again this year I’m following along and making blocks using my fabric line Bobbins and Bits! These are some of the fabrics I’ll be using.. plus a orange and green from my line.

CLICK HERE for some piecing TIPS and to see my first block… can’t wait to show you!

1 Watermak-Needle-Black

2014 aurifil jan machine quilting tip button

The very talented Natalia Bonner has a Machine Quilting tip for you each month. Natalia will be quilting the final top for the Aurifil Gallery in Milan Italy!

Visit Natalia at http://www.pieceandquilt.com/

Pat Sloan 2014 Aurifil challenge fabric

We have had a few questions on Supply list. Each designer was sent 1/2 yd of the fabrics above. Then they will add in one fabric from their own fabric line (like Brigitte did with her blue word fabric).  Since the blocks are being made as a mystery I can’t figure out a supply list in advance. I suggest you

  • buy 1.5 yd of a basic (like the cream the designers have) or use scraps
  • 1/2 to 1 yd of 4 main fabrics (this will be more than you need but it’s stash building.. wink!)
  • then add in a sprinkling of your scraps for the extra pieces the designer will use.
  • If you love one of the fabrics, buy extra to keep for the border. I won’t design the border until I see at least 1/2 the blocks and they give me a feel for the layout I want.

I hope that helps, … relax, have fun, make blocks!!

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EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a  block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted via Flickr email and posted at our FLICKR PAGE CLICK HERE


  1. I enjoyed the interview…I rarely finish reading a whole interview but this was very interesting. Thank ;you and I like that the BOM that she picked is simple but fabulous.

  2. Pingback: Making Progress
  3. Did you get the fabrics that the January designer used? Did you use the red in your block? Love your “Buttons & Bits” line!

  4. How come this block is 12 &1/2″ but the February block is 12″? I know I am late to start this but I am enjoying making these blocks! I was surprised that there was a difference in size tho???

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