Moda + Aurifil: Interviews + Pro Tips

Thank you so much for joining us for our two weeks of Moda love! Welcome to week two:). Today, we’re turning to Moda’s very own Lissa Alexander (also of Moda Lissa) to learn a little more about Moda AND we’ll hear from a handful of our treasured Moda designers for some excellent tips & tricks to keep you inspired!

A lineup of Moda All-Stars helmed by Lissa Alexander on the left! — via Martingale

Can you tell us a bit of background about Moda?
United Notions was established in 1975 when Mark Dunn came to Dallas, Texas to start a notion distributorship. Mark previously worked for his father in Atlanta, GA in the notions industry and had decided to go out on his own. Dallas was the perfect place being centrally located and several of the major notions brands were also located there. Mark Dunn along with Vice President of Design, Cheryl Freydberg created Moda Fabrics in 1990. First creating in house lines and now working with over 50 of the top creatives in the quilting and graphic industry, Moda has always prided itself on top quality, beautiful designs, while selling to the independent quilt and specialty retailers. United Notions/Moda is very much a family business as some of the 3rd and 4th generation family members have joined the company.

Cheryl Freydburg, Mark Dunn, Lissa Alexander, and Holly Hickman — via Moda

What do you love most about working in this industry?
Having a job that centers around my hobby is the best gig there is.  Working with creative people in every step from product development to seeing the final fabrics and quilts on the store shelves is incredible. I love exploring trends, playing with color and studying the history of patchwork gives me goosebumps, but overall building relationships with like minded people that I am able to call my friends has got to the most rewarding part of working in the industry.

What other industry gives of their time and talent like quilters. The most recent example is the storms that have affected the Texas and Florida areas. Where there is a need, quilters are the first to respond using their skills to make, share and comfort those in need. That is greatness!!

Fat Quarter Shop took Lissa with them to visit Moda Designers at Spring Market 2016 — via Fat Quarter Shop, Jolly Jabber

When did Aurifil and Moda first connect and how has the relationship developed over the years? 
United Notions was distributing Aurifil threads, so we already had a business relationship with the brand. Aurifil was still fairly new to the quilting industry. You had to be living under a rock to not notice the social media vibe that was happening thanks to Alex Veronelli, CBDO of Aurifil. I was intrigued mainly because Alex reminds me a lot of the president of Moda. They both thrive on listening and watching and then responding to the needs and wants of their customers. They both are very quick to be able to answer these needs not in product but also in their flexibility to react. The moda designers have loved working with Aurifil to combine thread sets that match their fabric lines. Whether picking fabric or threads, color is always the hardest thing to decide on. The thread sets have taken the thinking out of the equation.

Mark and Cheryl with Moda Designers — via Moda

Why do you love working with Aurifil? 
I had used Aurifil threads fairly regularly, but it was not until I took my machine in to be serviced that I realized how special this thread was. The machine tech had noticed the Aurifil spool on my machine and told me he could really tell the difference with the thread I was using when he was cleaning my machine. When I took my machine home I began to pay closer attention to what the tech said, I had little to no lint as I was sewing or in my bobbin case. The stitches laid into the fabric nicely eliminating even the slightest bulk that certain threads can cause.  I do ALOT of sewing on all different colors so I like the naturals but also use some of the colors as a neutral color 2000, 2310, 2312. The medium colors such as pink color 2437, grey color 2615, country blue color 2612 work wonderfully when using a big range of fabrics, they are not too dark, not too light, just perfect.

Aurifil Spools from ‘It Always Comes Back to Weight’ — via Moda

I asked around the office and polled some of my quilting friends and here is what they had to say about Aurifil.

  • Variety and options!
  • I like the different weights and the different looks you can get from them – from the 80wt on machine quilting to the 12wt for big-stitch quilting.
  • Threads colors consistent across the sizes so that I can mix machine quilting with hand quilting.
  • I use their variegated threads for quilting because the change of colors is very subtle which adds texture without glaring color differences.
  • Spool sizes. Small spools so I can lots of colors to the big cones for machine piecing.
  • Easy identifiable colored spools to distinguish thread weights.
  • Bobbins hold lots of thread.

And believe it or not I even got one comment  –  it doesn’t hurt that Alex smells good. 🙂

Thanks SO much to Lissa!!

In talking with our Moda & Aurifil designers, we asked for tips… both for working with Aurifil threads and with Moda fabrics. We’ll admit we’re feeling insanely inspired after reading all of these!

Brigitte at Houston Quilt Market 2016

Brigitte Heitland
My favorite weight of thread is the 50wt – I use it nearly for everything in my work: for piecing, for doing EPP, for quilting. My tip would be: get a box of neutrals like the MODERN BACKGROUND PAPER and INK box: They are filled with whites, greys, beiges, blacks. Those colors will be used again and again and again. Even in a colorful quilt with lots of pieces I stick with a medium grey or beige thread, which matches all colors. Such a box will be a good companion for a long time and can be refilled with spools if one runs out.

For Moda Fabrics my tip is: stock your inventory with some precuts like a Layer Cake, a Jelly Roll or a Charm Pack. There are many – even free – patterns out (like my free Jelly Roll pattern here), and the little precut packages are perfect for a quick project without wasting any fabric. So you have always something handy if you are in the mood to make for a weekend project.

Barb & Mary of Me & My Sister Designs

Barb Groves of Me & My Sister Designs
I always match my thread color to my binding. When using precuts, always use the top of the pinked edge when measuring!

Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles Quilters

Lynne Hagmeier
I love Aurifil 50wt. thread for topstitching with my Layered Patchwork technique and for piecing seams. I suggest a size #70/10 needle for finer thread so your stitch line is perfectly straight. I’ve found many quilters use a size #80 needle for ease in threading, but have a bit of wobble in their stitching. Matching your thread size to your needle size is key to perfectly straight topstitching.

Laurie Simpson of Minick & Simpson — via Pat Sloan

Laurie Simpson of Minick & Simpson
I’m sure almost everyone knows, but if you cut your thread with sharp scissors at an angle – it makes it much easier to thread your needles.

Pat Sloan
The best way to select the perfect matching Aurifil thread color for your favorite piece of Moda fabric is to pull one stand off the thread spool.  My tip is that there are often several colors that will work well. When you have cool tones, try different gray threads. When you have warm tone fabrics, use shades of brown and tan. You’ll be surprised at what till work!

Kate Spain
When I use my home sewing machine for free-motion quilting, I like to use Aurifil’s 60wt bobbin thread. It goes a long way … which means I don’t have to stop to change the bobbin thread as frequently and for anyone who has quilted a queen-sized quilt on a home sewing machine, you know how much time that will save!

Monday, 9/18 — Moda + Aurifil
Tuesday, 9/19 — Moda + Aurifil: The Interviews
Wednesday, 9/20 — Moda + Aurifil: Stacy Iest Hsu
Thursday, 9/21 — Moda + Aurifil: BasicGrey
Friday, 9/22 — Moda + Aurifil: Kate Spain + Brigitte Heitland

Monday, 9/25 — Moda + Aurifil: Interviews + Pro Tips
Tuesday, 9/26 — Moda + Aurifil: Pat Sloan + Me & My Sister Designs
Wednesday, 9/27 — Moda + Aurifil: Lynne Hagmeier + Minnick & Simpson
Thursday, 9/28 — Moda + Aurifil: Joanna Figueroa
Friday, 9/29 — Moda + Aurifil: Fall Sneak Peeks + Contest/Giveaway!

Thanks for following along & Happy Stitching!


  1. When you use the best fabric, Moda, and the best thread, Aurifil, you make the best quilts. I only use the best. 😊

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