Deep Gems by Paula Nadelstern


Paula Nadelstern‘s Deep Gems collection for Aurifil was prepared as a representation of the vibrant and rich colors typically present within her kaleidoscopic fabric designs. Oranges, reds and pink offset the cool blue and green tones, creating a truly fantastic range. Though these colors work particularly well in partner with Paula’s unique quilting style, they would also be the perfect complement to a variety of quilt projects. The collection features 12 unique colors of the highly versatile 50wt thread.

Deep Gems
12 Large Spools, 50 wt, 1422yds/each
2145 – 2150 – 2270 – 2260 – 4020 – 2545
5022 – 1147 – 2870 – 2810 – 2735 – 1200


To view this info on our website, click the image above. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in the world of quilting and textiles?
I’m a New Yorker wrapped up in the fabric of city life. In fact, I make my quilts on the same block in the Bronx where I grew up. I settled into full time quilt making by way of the playground park bench. That’s where moms on hiatus from previous lives (I was an Occupational Therapist) hang out and share ideas—like organizing total non-sewists and quilt novices into making a raffle quilt for the local cooperative nursery school, the same one I’d gone to as a toddler. One good group quilt led to another and another. By the time I gave up my place on that bench to the next generation of moms, I had the expertise and repertoire for a comprehensive book on group quilts (Quilting Together, Crown Publishers 1988) and was stitching my way toward a new career. And to this day, over 40 years later, the Nursery moms make an annual raffle quilt.

Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
My interest in things kaleidoscopic began in 1987 when I was struck by a bolt of fabric–a sumptuous, sinfully-expensive, bilaterally symmetrical Liberty of London cotton. Little did I know that purchasing a quarter yard would change my life forever, leading me three years and four quilts later to purchase my first actual state-of-the-art kaleidoscope and join the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, The BKS is a society of artists who design and create kaleidoscopes, galleries and shops who sell kaleidoscopes and collectors and museums who appreciate and enjoy them.

The amazing first bolt of Liberty of London fabric
The amazing first bolt of Liberty of London fabric

The insight from this anecdote is obvious: buy that piece of fabric no matter how expensive it is. As I peer through the many incredible kaleidoscopes I have garnered over the years, like a sleuth searching for clues, I discover my design inspiration all over again. Who knows what the next turn of the scope will reveal to me or to you?

With hindsight I’ve realized that another factor played strongly in the development of my personal design and technique strategies. Historians have suggested that the block-style method of making quilts evolved in response to the cramped quarters of early American life. My family’s living arrangements in an urban environment created similar considerations that, unwittingly, I resolved in much the same way.

When I started making kaleidoscope quilts, my workspace in our two-bedroom apartment was the forty-inch round kitchen table. (I’m the only person I know who taught her family to eat in front of the TV). I think the reality of limited space helped shape my idiosyncratic style. Instead of the traditional square-shaped-block, my block-style method is based on a triangle because a kaleidoscope is a circular design composed of identical triangular wedges that radiate from a center point. Throughout the design stage, I’m working on a single full-size triangle that is drafted on graph paper and patched from fabric using templates. Whatever I do to one triangle, I simultaneously do to all 6 or 8 or 16. I don’t see the final gestalt until the last seam is sewn.

Do you remember the process of creating your first quilt and how you felt once it was finished?
Lots of teachers on the circuit will tell you about the important female in their early lives who taught them to how to sew, insisting (kindly or not) that all imperfection be repaired. I grew up with a mom who prided herself on not being “fussy”, mended a lot (a habit left over from the Depression) and generously appraised every attempt of mine as either great or good enough. I am not complaining. When, as a young teen, I borrowed her much revered but temperamental second-hand, brand-name sewing machine, the bobbin would jam within minutes. Although this led me to suspect I wasn’t very good at sewing, I returned to it again and again because there is something optimistic about a palette of colorful, tactile fabric.

My matriarchal aunt’s gift to sixteen-year-old me of a steadfast Singer Featherweight©, purchased for $25 at a yard sale and fitted with a single hole throat plate, changed all that. (I used to call it an old machine until I learned it was a year younger than I am.) Together we made my first quilt (a comforter cover really) in 1968 in my college dorm, ripping up my old clothes into 10” squares and sewing them together. I was exceptionally proud of it and so was my mom. Today I work in a 15-by-10-foot studio revamped from my daughter’s former bedroom. Picture ceiling high cupboards stuffed with fabric, drawers overflowing with the paraphernalia quilters collect, 6 feet of design wall, and a Bernina poised for action on a 4-by-6-foot counter.

Paula's prized first quilt
Paula’s prized first quilt

Your book, Fabracadabra, was just released with C&T Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about that process and what you loved most about it?
I’ve been told that I write books pretty much the same way that I make quilts. Fabric by fabric. Choice by choice. In a word, slowly.

The truth is, I’d rather be working on a quilt than writing about it. But it’s not until you write about something that you understand it really well. Breaking down your own creative act, first by identifying your personal strategies, and then by dividing them into a sequence of steps, forces you to reflect on what things aren’t as well as what they are. This exploration steers you in lots of valuable directions. It leads you to the vocabulary needed to articulate your private visual language. It helps you recognize the kinds of mistakes students are likely to make and head them off in class. And sometimes, when you are very lucky, it awakens new ideas, pushing you, the artist, further along your creative path.


The book demonstrates how quilts made of simple shapes can be transformed into complex-looking quilts that are easy to piece using gorgeous, intricate fabric. Some, but not all, of the quilts are traditional patterns, gift-wrapped with charismatic fabrics.

Do you have a favorite project from the book?
One of my favorite quilts from my new book FABRICADABRA, Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric is the quilt called An Agreement of Butterflies.

I was waiting to give my lecture to the Prairie Quilt Guild in Wichita, KS when a traditional butterfly quilt held up during Show & Tell captured my attention. In a flash, I recognized a kindred pattern capable of showcasing a gazillion symmetrical prints all at once. Choosing the fabrics bewitched me into a flow state, the name for those glorious moments when you’re so energized by the task at hand that time seems immaterial. I made many more 5” x 5” squares than needed.

Closeup of An Agreement of Butterflies by Paula Nadelstern
Closeup of An Agreement of Butterflies by Paula Nadelstern

The collective nouns for various groups of animals and birds amuse me. A shrewdness of apes. A murder of crows. I assumed there’d be one for butterflies but when I couldn’t find it, I made one up. Assembled from forty-nine different fabrics (plus a common butterfly belly and black background equals fifty-one) from my first thirteen fabric collections for Benartex, these diverse colors and prints seem to be in accord — that’s why I called it An Agreement of Butterflies. So, color me speechless when a second internet search, six months after the first one, revealed labels for a multitude of butterflies. A rabble of butterflies. A flutter of butterflies. An equally appealing quilt title, a rainbow of butterflies. But the perfect coincidence, the goose bump laden karmic moment was the phrase: a kaleidoscope of butterflies. It must be true, I Googled it.

An Agreement of Butterflies by Paula Nadelstern
An Agreement of Butterflies by Paula Nadelstern

In your work, you herald the kaleidoscope, a word you say promises ‘surprise and magic, change and chance’. How has this informed your quilting style?
For almost forty years, the kaleidoscope has not only been my design inspiration, it’s also been my classroom. Analyzing not only what a scope is but also what it isn’t has steered me in lots of valuable directions, including toward the fundamental principles of design. I’ve learned to manipulate physical properties like focal point, rhythm and line to inject a feeling of motion into an otherwise static image. But it is the unique qualities synonymous with the kaleidoscope personality that I’m always trying to get to know better. Surprise. Magic. Change. Chance. I’ve learned that to conjure an instant of luminous and fleeting spontaneity, I’ve got to trust in symmetry, rely on detail, commit both random and staged acts of color and understand that the whole will always be greater than the sum of its parts. No matter what my quilts look like in the future, this personal design vocabulary, gleaned through the eyepiece of a kaleidoscope, will take the journey with me.

When did you first discover Aurifil threads and what do you love most about them? Do you have a favorite color/weight?
I’ve been using Aurifil 50 weight for years for piecing. My larger quilts can end up with thousands of seams. I like that I can rely on the combination of delicacy with strength because it helps keep the multitude of seams thin and not bulky.

I’ve used Aurifil 12 in many of the beautiful colors for embroidery and for a big stitch echoing a hand quilting stitch.

Paula at 2013 Quilt Market in Houston
Paula at 2013 Quilt Market in Houston

KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII: Millifiori, 82“x 82“, is my first quilt using only fabric from collections I’ve designed for Benartex and the first one quilted by me on a long arm machine courtesy of APQS. In 2013, I spent Houston Quilt Market in the APQS booth, quilting this extremely patterned piece, mentored by the delightful, generous staff. I think the choice of an olive Aurifil thread was brilliant. I’m fascinated by the effect, the impression that the thread changes colors, chameleon-like, against the multitude of hues in the quilt: golden, green, dark, light.

KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII: Millifiori, 82“x 82“, Paula Nadelstern (2013)
KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII: Millifiori, 82“x 82“, Paula Nadelstern (2013)

How did you go about selecting threads for your Aurifil collection and what excites you most about the range that you are presenting?
My intent when selecting the colors for my Aurifil collection was like my goal when I design fabric for Benartex. I want to offer beautiful stuff that can be used in a myriad of ways for anyone’s piecing adventure, not just to be used to make kaleidoscopic designs. I welcome color and motif inspiration whenever I’m lucky enough to notice it: an elevator door, a set of Italian dishes, a painting at the Met, the arabesque patterns in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a teaching trip to Abu Dhabi.


These charismatic and luminous jewel tones tickle my imagination. In fact, I plan to use DEEP GEMS as the inspiration for one of the colorways in my next fabric collection. I can’t wait to see what happens.



To enter-to-win 1 Large Deep Gems by Paula Nadelstern for Aurifil Thread Collection + 1 copy of Fabracadabra by Paula Nadelstern for C& T Publishing and 2 bundles of Kismet by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex , click here to head to the Rafflecopter entry page, or simply click on the image above. You do not have to complete all the options to be entered but the more options you choose, the more entries you have!  Entries will be accepted from now through 11:59pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, December 14! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Thursday, December 15. Good luck!

Update: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Niraja Lorenz!

paula-profilePaula’s quilts have achieved international recognition for the innovative and complex designs inspired by the bilateral symmetry of kaleidoscopic images. Honored by inclusion in the Twentieth Century’s 100 Best American Quilts, her designs have inspired products including the vast carpet in the Hilton Americas hotel in Houston, TX and were showcased in the American Folk Art Museum’s first one person exhibition highlighting the work of a contemporary quilt artist (2009). In addition to numerous awards, Paula was a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and The Bronx Council on the Arts. She is the author of FABRACADABRA, Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric, Kaleidoscopes & Quilts, Snowflakes & Quilts, Puzzle Quilts: Simple Blocks, Complex Fabric, Paula Nadelstern’s Kaleidoscope Quilts: An Artist’s Journey Continues, and Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Workbook. She designs textile prints exclusively for Benartex, Inc. and lives in New York City with her husband, Eric. her daughter, Ariel, lives a block away. 

Learn more about Paula on her website —


  1. The colors are encouraging me to start a new project. They are beautiful and make me think of summer (That might be because it’s snowing right now) Thanks for the chance to win. Kerry-ryan(at) att (dot)net

  2. The colors inspire me the most. They remind me of summer and warmer temps and make me want to pull out bright colors to work with!

  3. Love your quilt and designs in fabric you have created-you have a true talent! Not only am I impressed by the vibrant colors, but the way these threads will stand out and add wonderful accents to an already color-filledl quilting, thank you, Susan

  4. I love the colors and designs in the quilts shown. It is amazing what can be created with fabric…

  5. The amazingly beautiful colors in Deep Gems have a vibrancy,… an *excitement* about them that inspires me to explore!
    I want to use them to push past “familiar” and “done-that-before”, to venture out into new-to-me territory!
    Pat T.

  6. I love the deep rick colors of the Kismet fabric. There are lots of things I could do with that fabric. Would love to have a bed quilt using that fabric.

  7. Love the idea of making Kaleidoscope blocks for a quilt. Of course, I also love Aurifil thread.
    So winning the fabric, book & thread would be a bonus.
    Thank you for the chance.

  8. Those deep gem colors inspire me because of the depth and vibrancy of the colors. Those reds and oranges, especially make me want to reach through the screen and use right away.

  9. i have always been fascinated by Kaleidoscopes and butterflies; these colors are amazing.

  10. I am a big fan of jewel tones and I have always loved the cool kaleidoscopes formed by patterned fabric. Never tire of the patterns formed!

  11. Bright colors always make me happy. My quilting friends know that I am biased in that direction and tease me about it. But those threads would go with practically every fabric I own.

  12. I’ve always like the intense colour of jewel tones. All of these colours can be found in my fabric stash, except the hot pink. But I think hot pink thread would look great with orange fabric.

  13. Wow, what gorgeous colors ! I would love to have these to quilt a jewel toned top that I just finished. Thanks for a great giveaway.

  14. The very first class I took as a beginning ng quilter was a cass with Paula. She inspired me to be creative. I am a bright color person so I love Paula’s new thread .

  15. Kaleidoscope images remind me of when I was a child and we would look through the viewers all day. The patterns are so much fun.

  16. I’ve been fascinated with kaleidoscopes all my life, and kaleidoscopic quilts when I started qulting. Ms. Nadelstern’s creations are always inspiring as well as her fabrics. Her collection for Aurifil is glorious!

  17. The colors are beautiful — and I love the kaleidoscope designs. The quilts appear to be
    so complex when finished — a treat for the eye.

  18. Swoon! I absolutely love gem colors, and they inspire me to try something more arty in my quilts. Thanks for this awesome chance to win!

  19. The colors impart enthusiasm and life to the fabrics; they are a bit intimidating in that I’d want to make the most of them.

  20. I absolutely love Paula’s work- I have been a big fan of hers for many years. I love her color choices and this thread is so vibrant looking. I am sure that the winner will be thrilled with these fabrics thread and book. Thanks for the chance to win it.
    Regards from Albera Canada,
    quiltmom Anna

  21. I love, love, love, how deep these colors are. Aurifil makes beautiful threads. These colors will make my quilts pop with extra elements. Thank you so much!

  22. These colors totally radiate Happy ..Warmth…& Sunshine!!! Inspired by their Sparkle!!! Loooove them!! Thank you for chance to win your Give-a-way too!!😊

  23. The Deep Gems Threads are so crisp and beautiful and as Aurifil threads that makes them even more appealing.

  24. Like stunning gems these glowing threads reflect the vibrant colours of the seasons. Warm and welcoming, cool and sparkling – a splendid selection!

  25. Wow. Just wow. Your sense of color and pattern is so brilliant! This play of pure color to be therapeutic and invigorating — I just love it! My quilting group here in Accra (expatriates from around the world) love playing with colors and patterns that are far more vivid than I have encountered in the US. I can’t wait to show this to them.

  26. Love those deep, gem-like colors! I’m happy to have taken classes from Paula a couple of times thanks to Colorado Quilting Council.

  27. All the ideas that pop into my head when I read this are crazy! So many possibilities to make a great with the rich colors. Thank you for sharing!

  28. I love jewel tones and use them in my machine embroidery to provide a pop of colour to many designs I sew for my quilts. I want to learn more about kaleidoscopes and how to use them in my quilting.

  29. Truly inspiring! I love all the rich colors and have always wanted to make a Kaleidoscope quilt!

  30. Half of my fabric stash is Paula Nadlestern fabric. Nearly all of my machine thread is Aurifil.
    A great combo together at last. Love love love the colors Paula chose! BRILLIANT COLLECTiON!

  31. Simply beautiful! I saw an exhibit of Paula’s quilts a few years ago and fell in love. Thank you for the interview and the chance to win!

  32. I’m inspired by the bright lustre of these threads; they call for bright fabrics and dark backgrounds. That would be quite a party!

  33. LOVE these colors in quilts… black or white!!!
    I don’t know if Paula will remember, but i was in a class in Chicago with Pam Holland. Paula took Pam’s roo and held it hostage………LOL

  34. Just beautiful. Wondering if my stash has hidden potential? Probably some, but not as much as Paula’s does! Would love to own this book!

  35. Deep Gems is the best group of colors I’ve seen in a long time! So Vibrant! Deep Color! I want them now!

  36. These are so vivid. Would love to make something I would use every day as the colors are just HAPPY

  37. Gorgeous new line of Aurifil thread and your new fabric line is so bright just love them. I’m new to quilting but slowly learning, I could already picture the quilt I would make out of your new line of fabric.

  38. Lcve the threads, fantastic colors, and great fabric concepts, looking forward to seeing the book and the fabric!

  39. These colors make me think of summer, colorful & vibrant flowers, fruits – and I can’t wait for winter to be over! Thanks so much!

  40. Those colors are so pure and bright, they would really make a quilt shine. It makes me want to make a quilt that’s all about the thread!

  41. love the bright colors – makes me want to match fabric with the thread colors before starting a project. I hope to dive into the landscape and art quilts in 2017 – these threads would be a good jumping off point.

  42. I love to use vibrant batiks in my quilting these would add an additional element to my quilts and make them shine.. I would be such a happy camper. dhardenburg (at) prodigy (dot) net

  43. The tones intrigue and delight a viewer offering a punch. Quilters are always looking for zingers in both fabric and threads.

  44. Believe it or not, I have never had the pleasure of quilting/sewing with Aurifil Threads. Yet, after reading this post and seeing the selection of Gems I will definitely be purchasing some to try! The collection of Deep Gems are absolutely stunning and make me want to do projects of Free Motion Machine Embroidery and just paint with the thread whatever scene comes to the surface of my mind! Like the Dragon I did for my Father. He loves it!

  45. I love how rich and elegant these colors and fabrics look! The jewel tones against black are spectacular.

  46. Those jewel-tone colors inspire me to make a quilt – a kaleidoscope of butterflies for my living room would be a real conversation piece.

  47. As I grow more confident in my quilting I want to use more ‘stand out ‘ colors instead of blenders. These colors fit that bill beautifully!!!

  48. I am inspired to create something with deep jewel tones to use these gorgeous colors! I’d like to make a mini quilt for our guest room since the bedspread is a deep blue color…would match very well!

  49. I have always been drawn to rich saturated colors, and Deep Gems are just that. They are deep and rich, loved them all.

  50. I love these colors. And when you love the colors you’re working with, it enhances the whole experience!

  51. I really like to make quilts with a lot of colour and this range is awesome – I can’t wait to work with such gorgeous colours and fabric designs.
    perry94022 at hotmail dot com

  52. My colors are so rich, and outstanding. I think a quilt made with this thread would be unique and special! It would definitely be a treasure!

  53. The colors are so rich and vibrant that you can’t help but want to create something with them. Such beautiful fabric and thread!

  54. I love rainbows in general and making quilts using a rainbow of colors. Deep Gems will fit in my rainbow filled world quite nicely.

  55. Love the rich, vibrant colours and the prints are so intricate and complex…. absolutely gorgeous collection!!!

  56. Love the deep rich colors it inspires me want to be a better fiber artist be more creative and never be shy with color

  57. Love the fabrics and the thread. The book looks great. Would love to win this package! Thank you for the chance!

  58. Simply beautiful – would it be possible to improve/enhance? My mind is in a whirl of possibilities… Thank you for the chance to try

  59. The rainbow variety of the deeply, rich, jewel tones makes me think this collection would be set out somewhere where I could look at them often. They make me feel HaPpY.

  60. The kaleidoscopic effect is what inspires me. I can see a slouchy bag or cross body bag quilted w/these gem tones draped across me strolling at a fast pace down a crowded street. Lots of compliments always when wearing bright colors.

  61. I’d love to try the deep saturated colors of this thread collection. thanks for the opportunity to win the book,thread and fabric.

  62. I absolutely love your kaleidoscopic fabrics! I’m working on completing a quilt where the spirals were cut apart and then reconstructed into another design. The saturated colors of the aurifil threads would work extremely well for quilting it.

  63. Jewel tones have always been my favorite color way, especially in batiks. Now in your prints they are even more yummy.

  64. Sing me the song of the butterflies. I will make room for them to arrive in my mailbox.

    Lovely, just lovely. I have several of your books, and they are a joy.

  65. Such beautiful and yummy colors! I can just imagine all the lovely butterflies together. Pretty colors of nature.

    Thanks for a chance to win. HappyHolidays!


  66. I have always been attracted to dark jewel toned fabrics so these new fabrics will inspire my use of those jewel tones. I met Paula several years ago at her exhibit at the Akron Art Museum. I was a volunteer at the museum and since everyone knew I was a quilt maker they wanted to make sure I met Paula. She was so nice and was so interesting to talk to. The exhibit was beautiful!

  67. I’m not a huge fan of quilts with white backgrounds. Keeping the whites white without fading the colors is daunting. I love how these colors pop against the dark background.

  68. I love the almost tropical feel and the bold colors encourage you to play freely and not worry too much about matching shades or worrying about volume. Great insights from a great interview. So glad I got to read through and be inspired!

  69. Absolutely gorgeous fabrics and threads, these would be a dream come true to win and create with and the book looks wonderful! Paula’s designs never fail to amaze me! Thanks for the chance to win and Happy Holidays!!

  70. I recently recieved a jewel quarter yard fabric pack from keepsake quilting. Gee your quilts have inspired me. I would love to win your book for instructions how. Happy Holidays

  71. The richness of the dark deep colors suggests to me infinite layers of complexity, each layer revealed when the light hits in a different way.

  72. I love the greens, and blues, and the purple – it is so nice to see all the vibrant colours. I have your Snowfalkes book, and have been wishing for Fabricadabra for Christmas – the quilts are breathtaking!

  73. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write read more about this topic, it will not be considered a taboo subject but usually everyone is too few to communicate in on such topics. To another. Cheers

Leave a Reply