We first met Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio in the Spring of last year, just after Quilt Market. Hilary Jordan (our social media coordinator) and I spotted a fabulous mini quilt that she’d made featuring none other than Aurifil’s iconic 50wt spools on Instagram. With a rainbow of colors against a stark white background, the mini was striking and it’s no surprise that it caught our attention.
Sheri and Hilary connected on Instagram, which led to an email exchange with me. We learned that Sheri designed the “So Many Colors” mini quilt as a donation to the Quilt Alliance annual fundraiser in early 2016. The theme was “Playing Favorites” and the mini quilt incorporated her favorite brand of thread, Aurifil, using one of her favorite piecing techniques—foundation paper piecing.
Initially, we weren’t quite sure how we were going to work together, but we knew we wanted to do something fun and impactful in honor of Aurifil’s upcoming 10th Anniversary. After a series of conversations, a whole bunch of exchanged emails and some internal planning, a decision was made. We have absolutely LOVED working with Sheri over the past 8 months. She is creative, thoughtful, incredibly professional, and we couldn’t be happier with the quilt that she created.
We’re thrilled, today, to introduce Sheri to you and to let her debut her quilt in her own words, with a series of stunning process photos to give you all a closer look at how this fabulous masterpiece came together. Thank you Sheri!!
I am so excited to share the process of creating the 270 Colors quilt I created for Aurifil to commemorate and celebrate their tenth anniversary this year. The quilt features all 270 current colors of Aurifil’s 50wt thread!
After playing with different layouts in Adobe Illustrator and then presenting them to the Aurifil team, we decided to proceed with the layout shown below. The placement of colors mimics the arrangement of how the spools are displayed when the drawers are pulled out in the Full Selection Collection Box.
I started drafting the pattern and testing while I was waiting for materials from Aurifil, Robert Kaufman, and The Warm Company to arrive. It was important to me for the spools to be shown at actual size and proportions once all of the pieces were sewn together. Measuring, making diagrams, and sewing prototypes (and then re-testing) helped achieve this.
Organization was key while making this quilt! I needed to match all 270 colors of thread to corresponding Robert Kaufman Kona® Solids. As soon as the big, beautiful box of Aurifil thread arrived in my studio, I created a spreadsheet in Excel. The color numbers in the spreadsheet are arranged in the same configuration as the thread is in the drawers. Having this tool allowed me to mix and match the thread to the fabric but still be able to return it to its correct location in the box.
Once I was organized, it was time to get down to business — cutting and piecing! Even the scraps were beautiful.
After a very busy month of piecing, I moved on to basting. I used Warm and Natural batting from The Warm Company and LOTS of pins. I tend to use a lot of pins. The process of basting can be tough of my fingers, but using so many pins ensures that all of the layers remain smooth. I rarely have puckers or shifting while quilting.
The piecing and quilting was done on my Juki 2010, with Aurifil 50wt. I used my walking foot to quilt the orange spools (color: 1104) and the background (color: 2024). I free motion quilted the “thread” portions of all 270 using the cross wound pattern found on the actual Aurifil spools as inspiration. Instead of marking, I positioned pins as a guide for each spool. The spreadsheet I had set up also helped me keep on track while quilting. I highlighted each number as it was quilted. It also helped to create some test strips so I could practice my free motion quilting before digging in.
Check out this video clip demonstrating the free motion quilting process:
After a month of quilting, I was in the home stretch. It was down to burying threads, squaring up the quilt, binding, and sewing on a sleeve.
The final quilt measures approximately 70″ x 85″. The spools are the actual size of a large 50wt Aurifil spool and are spaced 2″ apart. The quilt is finished with a binding that matches Aurifil’s iconic orange spool (using Robert Kaufman Kona® Tangerine) and the back matches the blue in Aurifil’s logo (Kona® Water).
Happy 10th Anniversary Aurifil USA! I am honored to have had the opportunity to design and produce this quilt to help you commemorate this big milestone.
Be sure to check out the quilt as it travels to QuiltCon, 2017 Quilt Markets and with Alex when he visits a local quilt shop near you.
— Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill
Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill is a designer, maker and self-taught modern quilter. Sheri graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BFA in Graphic Design. She has twenty years of experience leading creative teams to create award winning identities, products and environments. She has worked in small design studios, a dot com and the exhibit department at a children’s museum.
Sheri’s quilts have gained national recognition including awards from QuiltCon, Quilt Week/Paducah and the Quilt Alliance. They have been featured at art centers and galleries across the country. In addition to publishing her patterns, her quilts have been featured in national publications such as Modern Patchwork. She also teaches quilting techniques.
Sheri was awarded the first annual Craftsy Quilt Designer Fellowship in 2016. This fellowship enabled her to debut Whole Circle Studio’s first booth at International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas in October 2016.
Sheri works from her home studio in the suburbs of New Haven, Connecticut—a hop, skip and jump away from New York City. She loves to chat about design and quilts. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Images, biography & guest post text courtesy of Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill]