Thread Painting with Sophie Standing

We’ve been following the work of Sophie Standing, an incredibly talented textile & fiber artist, for years and are completely enamored with her breathtaking works of art. She brings her subjects to life with a stunning combination of fabric and thread, pulling from countless hues, layering various patterns and thread weights, and expertly piecing them all together to become one amazing image. Sophie references both her extensive artistic background and her physical surroundings to create these artworks.


We’ve been working with Sophie as an artist for quite some time. We even featured her right here on Auribuzz back in March of last year. Earlier this year, she let us know that she would be traveling to the US from her then home in the Seychelles, and we saw it as a tremendous opportunity. Sophie has been traveling more and more, teaching lucky groups of quilters how to get started with textile art and embroidery. What better way to honor our admiration than with a curated thread collection. Sophie pulled together her absolute go-to threads, her must-haves for getting started with her medium of choice. The resulting collection is not only gorgeous, but incredibly versatile.



Thread Painting: The Mammal Collection
100% Aurifil Cotton, 12 Large Spools (1422yds/spool)
2021 – 2318 – 2605 – 2360 – 2630 – 2692
2270 – 2530 – 2120 – 2870 – 2735 – 1148

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

What first drew you to to the world of sewing and quilting?
Sewing was always a big part of my life. From the age of 11 or 12 (I can’t quite remember), I was working in a craft shop run by an Italian woman. It was a tiny little space, filled with skeins of cotton and silk and wool. It was like an Acadians cave. I didn’t earn much money but always managed to spend it all in the shop on threads, cross stitch samplers, or ‘make your own teddy’ kits.

As I got older my sewing and creative flair turned more towards clothes and fashion. I loved fabrics and would buy them without even knowing what they were going to be used for. I was a total fabric hoarder… and not just quilting and haberdashery fabrics. Also woven textiles from Guatemala, Indian silks, Indonesian embroideries. Two of my most treasured possessions are the large hand woven and embroidered bed throw/wall hangings that my husband, Andre, bought me in Bhutan when he was on business there. They are both more than 70 years old. The hand embroidery is exquisite and the amount of hours it must have taken to create is mind blowing.

I started doing a bit of machine embroidery on skirts and dresses, just the odd heart and group of bubbles or balloons, and gradually started experimenting more. Whilst living in Cape Town my friend Saskia asked if could create some fabric art pieces for the walls of her shop on Long Street, Misfit. These were the first pieces of textile embroidered art that I made. It was three pieces in total: a rabbit, three swallows and a meadow of flowers.

I had never worked like that before, creating animals with coloured fabric appliqué and then sewing the details with threads, but I loved it. I guess it just combined my love of of so many things… flora and fauna, fabrics, threads, sewing, & art.

Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
I would say my greatest inspiration comes from the world around me. I’m a wildlife artist — my work has been heavily influenced by my past 17 years living in Africa. The fabrics of KFC (Kaffe, Brandon and Philip) and Liberty London… they are what make my work what it is. Together with the vast array of colours from Aurifil, I can use thread to paint on these fabrics so beautifully to make my animals come alive.

What do you love most about the process of thread painting? 
Turning a 2d colourful and floral fabric surface into a 3D sculptural mammal.

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created?
I have a few, actually… and some of them, I don’t like much at all! My favourites are the silver back gorilla, Satao the great tusker, the hunting lioness, and neon kifaru (rhino).

When did you first discover Aurifil threads and what do you love most about them?
I was first introduced to Aurifil when both Luke Haynes and Liza Lucy told me how wonderful they were and that I should try them. I couldn’t find them in Kenya so Liza sent me a few spools from the US to try out and I loved them immediately.


The amount of colours that are available is fabulous. I have the colour chart on the wall of my studio like a piece of art, it’s delicious! They are glossy but without giving too much shine to my work. They are very rich and almost glow!

The weights are brilliant. I mainly use 50 weight for all the very fine detailing, facial features and hair,  and whiskers. I switch to 40 for the areas of the body that still need hair or wrinkly skin texture — it covers a bit faster. The 28 and 12 weight are really great for extra definition in certain areas. They work best in fish and birds in my work.

Oh, and the different spool sizes too. For my work, using all four thickness, its ranges from 1300mt to 750mt of cotton on a spool. For my last exhibition, I used approximately 22,000mt of thread. That was finished spools so it was a lot more than that as there were many half and quarter used spools.

How did you go about selecting colors for Thread Painting: The Mammal Collection and what excites you most about releasing the collection to the world?
My mammals created first with fabric appliqués. I use fabrics from Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mabley, Philip Jacobs, and Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn. These are mostly colourful bright fabrics, bold and fun, and some. like the Liberty prints, are small in scale. With this in mind, when I work with thread painting, I need a color palette of naturals and neutrals contrasted with the brights. This collection features all of my go-to threads for mammals.


To enter-to-win Sophie’s Thread Painting collection, 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 Monday, September 18! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Tuesday, September 19. Good luck!



Sophie Standing was born in England and grew up in Hampshire. She studied wood, metal, ceramics, and textiles at Liverpool Hope University. Since graduating, Sophie has worked as an artist in many different mediums, including works in ceramics, stained glass windows, weaving, dress making and more recently experimenting with textile art. She was fortunate for many years to be part of the team that designed, installed and displayed the award winning windows at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London. She is also an accomplished wedding florist and fine artist, life drawing being a specialty.

In 2003 Sophie moved to Cape Town, South Africa and is now living in Kenya. Sophie’s textile embroidered art is inspired by the flora and fauna around her in Africa and combines this with her passion for fabrics and textiles. Her one off pieces are created by appliqueing an intricate collage of fabric onto the canvas where her image is already sketched out. She then draws the details over the top of the fabric with her sewing machine using many different coloured threads.

Sophie has an extensive collection of fabrics from all over the world and in a vast array of designs and textures, ranging across haberdashery, dress making, quilting, new and vintage, floral, modern, wool, cotton, silk… Liberty and Kaffe Fasset being among her favourites.

Although Sophie enjoys working towards exhibitions she usually works to private commission and enjoys the process of working closely with clients on a project. She has sold works to clients in Kenya, South Africa, UK and Germany.

** Images, biographical text, and interview text by Sophie Standing




  1. Her thread paintings are so lifelike that they draw you in. Then upon more careful examination, the fabulous use of prints amazes me.

  2. I love the way you have created the eyes. It seems like the animal is alive and may come through the artwork….twilight zone………..

  3. Her work is incredible. I admire her artistry and patience. What a gift to have an eye that can reproduce an image so lifelike. Thanks for sharing her interview…amazing!

  4. just love Sophie’s beautiful art – the little bits of fabric coming through, the awesome thread work, and the beautiful faces she creates – such stunning artwork

  5. I love the way patterned fabrics and thread sketching come together to create these beautiful animal portraits.

  6. Thank you for introducing us to Sophie! I had seen a few pictures of her gorgeous work. Great article! Another creative use of the great Aurifil colors of threads!

  7. This work is incredible! So beautiful, and so different. I need to see more up close, and see how she uses thread. Awesome talent.

  8. Her work is absolutely stunning. It would be amazing to take one of her classes, Thanks for sharing. grinnie1961 at gmail dot com

  9. ONe forgets that the image is made up of so many different fabrics and colors when viewing them. They are so lifelike and have such depth. I can only imagine the hundreds of hours that are invested in each work of art….for that is what they are!!!

  10. I love how the bold floral fabric and beautiful threads are used to show the detail of each animal. Amazing artistic vision & design!

  11. Inspirational work, I love the contrast between the realistic detail achieved with the stitching and the colourful fabrics

  12. It is in the eyes it brings the piece alive…amazing talent….Noelene from Australia…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: