Aurifil 2018 January Designer of the Month Katja Marek

I’m Designer, Author, Talk Show host Pat Sloan.

In 2010 I created the first original Block of the month for Aurifil and it was so much fun we’ve done it ever year since! 2018 is the start of my 8th year running this super fun program.  Learn more about how it works at our intro of the 2018 team

This year we challenged each designer to create a block inspired by ‘The Places We Go’ and I asked them to use  black & white fabrics  + a color of their choice.

If you know shop owner and author Katja Marek, you already know the color she selected! See her store banner above?

I interviewed Katja this past  December 11, 2017 and we chatted about her newest book, it’s all about Dresdens!

LISTEN HERE & Subscribe by Itunes.

Missed a month? CLICK FOR PRIOR DESIGNER interviews

Remember we have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview.

Each month we select one random winner to receive a 12 spool BOX of Aurifil thread for just making the challenge block and sharing it at my website! (details at the end plus last month’s winner!)

Let’s get to know Katja!

Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?

I live in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. I’ve officially been here half my life this year. There are many beautiful places around Kamloops, but being a bit of a homebody, my favorite spot is at home in my yard. My backyard faces north, which means shade on those hot Kamloops summer days, and it also backs onto a wash (natural water run off), and has the most beautiful view of the Kamloops hills. When was your FIRST quilt sighting?

The first time I remember seeing a quilt was after my Dad moved our family to Parry Sound Ontario, when I was 14. He had purchased a camp/resort together with my uncle. The previous owner’s wife had handmade coverlets for all the beds in the housekeeping cottages. Among them was a beautiful Grandmother’s fan that I fell in love with. I immediately set about making thick cardboard templates and cutting out fabrics to begin making my own ‘blanket’. I didn’t know yet that I had just started quilting.

It would take many years before I learned that many of the things I was making were called quilting. In 2014, after 40 years, that original coverlet that inspired me to start my first quilt came back to me. My Aunt and Uncle, who had stayed at the camp after my family left, gifted it to me. It was very emotional.

Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making?
Before I remove the papers from my English Paper Piecing, I spray it lightly with Mary Ellen’s Best Press and press dry, from both the front and back of my work. This gives me the sharp edges I am looking for in my work once the papers come out, so it can easily be appliquéd to the background.

What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?
My Mom and I share the sewing space in our home, which digs into both sewing spaces, and in 2014 I added an APQS Lucy longarm quilting machine as well. If I could afford it, I would double its size. Most of my hand sewing and English Paper Piecing takes place not downstairs in the sewing room, but in the living room in front of the TV.
My machine sewing, pretty much happens in my office at my shop. All of my ‘Splendid Sampler’ sewing was done here.

A few years back I set up a tiny sewing corner, which often gets cluttered with the various things that pass through my hands in a given day. I did some heavy duty mucking before I took these photos, lol. Just wanted you to see it at its best. I finally hung many of my treasures on the walls, it may look cluttered to many, but I love being able to see it all displayed.

What is coming up?
I have a new online quilt-along that started at the beginning of January called ‘Rainy Days and Sun Days’. (See the bottom left 2 photos in the collage, for more info go to under the quilt-alongs tab for more information). This quilt-along consists of two coordinated quilts and is based on my latest Martingale publication Distinctive Dresdens: 26 Intriguing Blocks, 6 Projects.

When my first book, The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece, was published in 2014, I followed it up with my first online quilt-along during 2015, ‘The New Hexagon – Millefiore Quilt-Along’. Two more quilt-alongs based on the book followed, ‘Blocks on the Go, for Quilts on the Grow’ in 2016, and ‘Hex-Plosion’ in the later part of 2017.
In 2016, The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar, as well as The New Hexagon Coloring Book were released, and followed by ‘Perpetually Hexie’, a new online quilt-along came along.  At the request of followers I set up a Facebook Group for the first quilt-along, which now has over 13,000 followers. I had to set up a second group in 2015 for all forward moving quilt-alongs, this group has almost 6,000 members.

What location inspired your block?
In the last few years my Mom and I have travelled bit, including several River cruises. In 2015 this was a trip along the Elbe River, including a stops in Dresden and Meissen. This region has been known for its china porcelain since the 1700’s. The Meissen Manufactory has been producing porcelain for over 300 years and was originally founded in Dresden by the Saxon Prince Elector August the Strong. We were able to go on a tour of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory and Museum of Meissen Art. I would have loved to purchase a plate for myself, but the price was beyond my budget. I was struck by the beauty and diversity of this china, but wondered why the blocks named for this spectacular china were not also as diverse.

So, I designed a series of blocks that I felt more reflected this unique china. These blocks were published in Distinctive Dresdens (Martingale 2017). When I found out the theme for the 2018 Aurifil Designer of the Month was “The Places We Go”, I immediately thought again of Dresden, a city full of beauty and history. I decided I wanted to design a Dresden Plate block that more truly reflected the city and the china I saw, unlike the normal twenty 18-degree wedges found in traditional Dresden Plate blocks. I also wanted to bring it into today’s age with my favorite color orange, and add some delicate hand stitching to represent the individually hand-painted dishes I was able to admire.


Download Katja’s Dresden Dreaming


What does your garden look like?
8 years ago I found myself single for the first time in over 30 years, my Mom moved in with me, and we purchased a beautiful little rancher within city limits. Some of my friends, finding themselves in similar situations chose condos, where no outside work needed to be done. As for me, I wasn’t ready to give up on my ‘own chunk of land’, no matter how small. I still needed somewhere to feel the earth on my hands and create beauty around me. Over the past eight years, I have taken this small lot from raw dirt and gravel, to a collection of flowers, foliage, grasses, and garden accents.

A Favorite Quote? My favorite quote is not really a quote, but a poem, ‘The Desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann. I consider the Desiderata (which means things desired) to be words to live by.

Visit Katja at:

I decided to do fusible applique for my block, and I have a tutorial for you!

ALSO ENTER YOUR BLOCK at my website to be in the running to win a box of thread, last month’s winner is below

In Late January I will publish a setting for these 12 blocks. If you can’t wait, there are a few settings from our prior years at

And  JOIN my fantastic online quilt group with the most incredible  quilt show each day… I’d love to meet you!

1 Watermak-Needle-Black

******* JOIN our Aurifil Family  *******

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 email

Our RANDOM picker this month selected is Vicki! She has WON a BOX of Aurifil thread! Such gorgeous blocks entered .. see all the great versions HERE


  1. Absolutely stunning work ! I love the intricate details you put on your block ! I’m going to try it ! 💕

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