The Great British Quilter launched as a super fun challenge in September of last year and we’ve been entranced ever since. Co-hosts Sarah Ashford of Sarah Ashford Studio and Charlie Mankin of Sydney Rose Designs have a contagious enthusiasm that has inspired the masses, sharing quilted masterpieces, WIPs, go-to tools, mini-bios, and generally connecting quilters in a massive online quilty party. We’ve loved seeing all of the photo prompts and seeing what goodies pop up with each new image.
This year, the Great British Quilter has grown and one of the truly exciting parts of that is the introduction of a coordinating thread collection. Curated by Sarah & Charlie, the collection was created in the spirit of the event, pulling together 12 amazingly talented designers from the UK to create one delightfully bright, perfectly versatile, and completely delicious collection of 50wt thread.
We’re excited today to share a bit more about how it all came together, how Sarah & Charlie came to create the Great British Quilter in the first place, who these 12 designers are, and where this whole fabulous challenge is headed.
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
Great British Quilter
12 Large Spools, 50wt (1094yds/spool), 100% Aurifil Cotton
2692 – 2630 – 2600 – 2024 – 4020 – 1133
2810 – 1231 – 3660 – 2520 – 5006 – 3910
What first inspired you to start sewing?
C: My mum is a quilter and was always sewing or working on some kind of craft as I was growing up, so she always encouraged me to try new things. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I was drawn to the sewing machine and used to find pieces of fabric and cut and sew until they became something, usually wearable. I specialised in textiles for my art A-level and designed and printed fabric to make into things – a dress, I reupholstered an ottoman and my mum made a quilt out of my printed fabric. I made my first quilt about 2010 and never looked back!
S: Similarly, my mum shared her love of sewing with me, so I grew up being creative from a young age. I did GCSE Textiles and made a baby dress and a ball gown – I loved sewing before it was trendy! It was only when I was expecting my daughter about 10 years ago that I got into quilting. A beautiful modern quilt shop opened up where I lived and that introduced me to a whole wonderful world of modern fabrics. I was so excited by all the possibilities and have literally quilted every day since.
Do you remember the first project that you made and how you felt after it was complete?
C: I can’t remember my first sewing project but my first quilt was so much fun, I remember getting totally sucked in and not wanting to stop until it was finished. It was made from a charm pack I fell in love with at a quilt shop in the Netherlands with my mum. It’s not something I would make now but it definitely made me catch the bug!
S: When I was 6 I stitched an alphabet sampler at school. Actually, I’m not sure I finished it, there are a lot of letters in the alphabet! My first quilt was for my daughter. It was colourful and floral and the points matched quite well, but I had no idea how to make binding so I just did my own thing and it’s terrible! But that quilt is made with love and will always be special.
How did the two of you meet? Can you tell us more about the Great British Quilter’s origin story?
C: We met on Instagram! Sarah had put out a call for quilters as she was setting up the South West Modern Quilt Guild and I had not long been back in the West Country and was desperately looking for people who had similar interests as me…. it was meant to be! We met up before the first Guild meeting and knew from then we had to work together!
S: Yes, that’s right, we met on Instagram first and got to know one another. When we met up it was as if we had always been friends, we have a great connection. We just ‘get’ each other and have a similar quilting style and aesthetic. So when I had the idea for the Great British Quilter Challenge on Instagram, I knew I wanted Charlie to be a part of it. The idea behind it was to champion all things British and quilting, as we have so much talent on our small island. We also wanted it to be an opportunity to champion local businesses, British quilters, designers and fabric companies. We came up with 30 prompts for each day in September, and everyone had to respond with a photograph and a comment/explanation. It gained momentum really quickly, with a lot of high profile quilters joining in and it literally snowballed. It was really galvanising for the British Quilting community and I know lots of quilters made new friends and learnt about new quilting retailers and designers that they hadn’t known about before. It was such a success, we more than achieved what we set out to do.
What would you say are your individual strengths within the business – have you settled into particular roles?
C: Sarah is definitely the ideas and social person, she always comes up up with a million amazing ideas all at once and is great at reaching out to people and networking! I’m the organising/tech/design person trying to keep things together and on brand.
S: Charlie is insanely talented when it comes to graphic design, photography and social media. She is definitely the tech brain behind it all! I think our skills really compliment one another, and why we make such a good team.
What do you love most about working together?
C: I love Sarah’s energy and drive, if she wants something, she’ll go for it. That girl is going places! Did I also mention she’s an incredible quilter?!
S: I love Charlie’s ‘can do’ attitude. Nothing is too much trouble for Charlie, she’ll give anything a go and make most things happen! I’d also like to mention that her quilts are so cutting edge and innovative, Charlie really is an inspiration and it’s such an honour to work with her.
C: Aww, now I’m blushing!
What do you have planned for the Great British Quilter this year?
S: Well as you know we are about to launch our Aurifil thread box, and you can come and see us and all the quilters at the Aurifil Stand No. C1 at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham on 9 – 11 August. We are so excited to share our box and meet other quilters. We even have something very exciting to give away to the first 200 quilters that come to the stand!
Online retail shop Simply Solids are going to be stocking a Great British Quilter Kona Solids bundle, which are the solids of all the colours in our collection.
We also have the Great British Quilter challenge coming again this September, with new prompts and high value weekly giveaways from British companies and designers. There are also other plans in the pipeline that we look forward to sharing in due course.
What inspired this coordinating thread collection?
C: We wanted to create a ‘must have’ collection including a mix of basics and colours so this would be the collection you reach for for a multitude of projects. We started by pulling colours from our branding and then mixing and matching until we got the perfect combination.
S: Yes absolutely. We wanted it to be a ‘useful’ collection, which is why we included the basics, as quilters use these time and time again. But we also wanted our personalities to shine through with a bright, bold colour palette. We are thrilled with the colours we have chosen and feel that it’s a really cohesive ‘must have’ collection.
Can you tell us about the projects you’ve made and how they represent the collection?
C: We decide a collaborative mini quilt with a block from each of the quilters was a must have. It just so happened that one of ‘the crew’, Kerry Green, had designed an Aurifil spool block so it made sense that we each made a block in our colour which we matched up with Kona Cotton Solids.
Sarah and I had already planned to make a collaborative quilt this year, inspired by the ‘Designer, Maker, User’ installation at The Design Museum in London. We took the matching Kona colours to our collection and made our ‘Quilter’ quilt. All 12 colours are included in this piece, even black and white in the stripy binding!
How did you first discover Aurifil threads?
C: It was when I was living in Canada and discovered the amazing Instagram Quilting community. I lived in a tiny town so there were no Aurifil stockists but on a trip to Ottawa I found a quilt shop and bought my first spool; it just so happens it was Dove Grey 2600 which is definitely my most used colour and my colour in the collection!
S: The first time I really got to fully appreciate Aurifil threads (and meet Alex!) was at the Fat Quarterly Retreat in London about 6 years ago. I was living in Jersey, Channel Islands at the time so Aurifil wasn’t readily available, but I had seen it online and once I saw it in real life I was sold…I’ve literally never looked back and it’s my ‘go to’ thread for all all my quilting needs.
Do you have a favourite colour or weight?
C: I buy Dove Grey 2600 50wt by the cone!
S: I too love the Dove Grey as it’s so versatile, but my favourite colour is pink so I’d have to go for the variegated candy pink because it’s just so pretty! I also love the 12 weight threads as they are great for hand quilting and embroidery, which I do a lot of, when I’m not quilting!
How are team members for GBQ selected?
C: We made a list of British quilters who we admired and who are doing great things in the industry right now. It just so happened that all of them also joined in with our #GreatBritishQuilter challenge on Instagram and are all awesome people!
S: That’s exactly it. We chose quilters who have really inspired us and who are making waves in the British Quilting industry. I couldn’t agree more with Charlie, they are all awesome and it’s been such a pleasure to work with them all.
What do you love most about coordinating such a wonderfully talented crew?
C: Their energy and excitement at being part of this fantastic project. We all feel like we’ve hit the jackpot!
S: Everyone has been game for anything we’ve asked them to do and they’ve all been such champions for the #GreatBritishQuilter right from the start last September when we launched the challenge on Instagram. We have such an array of talent between us and everyone has something unique to offer. We are really excited about meeting up all together at the Festival of Quilts to launch our thread box!
Meet the team:
Sarah Ashford Studio
Aurifil Color — Bubblegum 3660
Sarah is an obsessive quilter, embroiderer and fabric lover. She’s founder of the #GreatBritishQuilter Challenge on Instagram and can be mostly found in her studio, stitching up her latest designs, using bright, bold colours. Sarah contributes to a range of publications including Love Patchwork and Quilting, Mollie Makes, Quilt now, and Modern Patchwork. She also regularly makes samples for British fabric companies Oakshott Fabrics and Dashwood Studio. Sarah also teaches classes and workshops for both adults and children, as she loves to spread the love of quilting wherever she goes! When she’s not quilting, she’s making customised project pouches which are available in her Etsy shop. Follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahashfordstudio
Sydney Rose Designs
Aurifil Color — Dove 2600
Charlie Mankin, aka. Sydney Rose Designs is a quilter and cross stitch designer and the founder of #GreatBritshQuilter hashtag on Instagram. She lives in in the beautiful Somerset countryside with her husband and two fat cats. Her passions are bright colours, modern design and she loves trying to recreate anything in quilt form. When she’s not trying to wrap her head around new quilt designs she can be found designing cross stitch kits for her shop Stitchsperation.com and drinking copious amounts of tea. Find her on instagram as @sydneyrosedesigns and @stitchsperation.
Aurifil Color — Lemon Ice 3910
Jo Avery has been playing with fabric and yarn for as long as she can remember, culminating in her current role as a designer, teacher and entrepreneur. Her natural affinity with expressive colour informs all her quilts and her love of intricate techniques such as needle-turn appliqué and embroidery allows her to embrace both modern and traditional aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to a number of quilt publications and enjoys inspiring others to discover their own creative potential through her studio workshops in Edinburgh. She organises the Stitch Gathering, an annual quilt retreat, and co-organises The Thread House weekend retreat in Bristol along side Karen Lewis. She is also an Aurifil Designer with her own thread collection, Sherbert Dip. Find Jo on Instagram as @mybearpaw.
Aurifil Color — Bright Orange 1133
Lucy’s passions are combining fabric, playing with quilt layouts and hand sewing. A designer, quilter and blogger at ‘Charm About You’, she teaches quilting classes and is a regular on The Sewing Quarter. Inspired by the history and varied techniques of patchwork and quilting, Lucy always has a few projects on the go! Always keen to play with colour and fabric, merging traditional and modern, her quilts reflect that miscellaneous style. When she’s not quilting, Lucy can be found doing some embroidery. Lucy’s instagram handle is @charmaboutyou.
Aurifil Color — Light Turquoise 5006
Carolyn Forster is a quilt designer, teacher and author from Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Since self-publishing her first book, ”Quilting On the Go” in 2007 Carolyn has gone on to write ten more patchwork and quilting books with Search Press in the UK and Landauer Publishing in the USA. She has been a regular project contributor for magazines in the UK, including Todays Quilter, as well as abroad. Carolyn’s quilts are an eclectic mix of fabrics, a posh way to say she makes scrappy quilts, and they always have their roots from some point in the past, being inspired by quilt makers who have gone before us. Accessibility is Carolyn’s key philosophy with her teaching, demystifying techniques to allow every quilter to discover their own voice. Carolyn combines her passion for travel and teaching, being a regular teacher at Quilt Festival Houston, as well as for The American Quilters Society. Find Carolyn on Instagram as @quiltingonthego.
Aurifil Color — Black 2692
Lynne Goldsworthy is a British quilt maker and quilt designer. She has been quilting for over 20 years and started quilting and designing professionally in the last five years or so. She has worked in all areas of quilting: teaching, writing books, contributing to magazines and demonstrating at retail shows but her first love is quilt design. She designs and has designed for a number of UK, US and Canadian fabric companies and currently designs for Lecien. She has co-organised, co-hosted and taught at quilting retreats in London, Bristol, Leeds and France as well as teaching locally to home. She has written / co-written three books: 500 Quilt Blocks, Quick And Easy Quilts and Fat Quarterly Colour Workshop. She has a fourth book coming out in July 2018: The Ultimate Quilt Block Collection. She has been featured in most of the UK’s quilting magazines including Today’s Quilter, Love Patchwork and Quilting, Quilt Now, British Patchwork and Quilting, Pretty Patches, Popular Patchwork, Mollie Makes, Sewing World, Modern Quilting Magazines and Fabrications Quilting For you. Lynne is @lilysquilts on Instagram.
Aurifil Color — Spring Green 1231
Kerry Green is a quilter and dressmaker who has been sewing since she was very young. She designs foundation paper-pieced quilt blocks with a quirky retro style and although she likes sewing up a wardrobe of handmade clothes, her heart always returns to quilting. She’s inspired by thrifty finds, kitchenalia and modern Japanese quilting. Kerry has a vintage aesthetic, loves light, bright happy colours, mixing feedsack fabrics with modern prints and squeezing as many patterns as she can into a project! Find Kerry on Instagram as @verykerryberry.
Aurifil Color — Fuchsia 4020
Katy has tried her hand at most parts of the quilting industry including working in a shop, designing quilts, (as well as the fabric they’re made from), writing books, being one of the founding members of the (now defunct) e-zine Fat Quarterly all of which led to her being the editor of Quilt Now magazine. She is currently working as a freelance tech editor and back designing quilt patterns and playing with bits of fabric (whilst drinking plenty of tea). Find her on instagram as @imagingermonkey.
Aurifil Color — Violet 2520
Florence Knapp is a quilter and dressmaker. For over a decade she has written a popular blog, Flossie Teacakes, about her adventures with a needle and thread. During this time she has designed sewing patterns and her work has featured in various magazines, as well as in a book produced by the V&A Museum. Florence’s early years were spent between England and Australia, where her childhood homes were filled with vibrant colour and intense pattern. As an adult, Florence found quilt making offered the perfect canvas on which to continue to embrace these things, as well as to indulge her love for small-scale precision work through fussy-cutting and English paper piecing. In May 2018 her first book, Flossie Teacakes’ Guide to English Paper Piecing, was published. Visit Florence online at www.flossieteacakes.blogspot and instagram as @flossieteacakes.
Aurifil Color — Dark Pewter 2630
Karen is a screen printer, fabric designer and quilter living in Leeds, West Yorkshire with her husband Matthew and three virtually grown up children Samuel, Noah and Ruby. Much adored Cockerpoo Scout has recently joined the clan and when she isn’t knee deep in paint and fabric and designing for Robert Kaufman, Karen and Scout can be found around and about in the fields by her house. Karen teaches printing and textiles at workshops around the UK and overseas, including Quiltcon and is one third of the UK based The Thread House with Lynne Goldsworthy and Jo Avery. You can find out more about Karen on her website karenlewstextiles.com and folly her daily antics on Instagram on @karenlewistextiles.
Aurifil Color — White 2024
Lou is a modern quilt designer from Oxfordshire in the UK where she began sewing a little over 6 years ago. Bright and geometric designs are what Lou goes for in her quilts and she loves the design and fabric selection process. She is @imstudiolou on Instagram.
Aurifil Color — Turquoise 2810
Jenni Smith has been sewing since she was a child, but discovered a love of quilting whilst living in Toronto in 2005. She teaches from her studio near Ilkley Moor and enjoys developing community quilt projects too. Jenni is currently working with Liberty on their new craft cottons, designing patterns to compliment them and presenting on Sewing Quarter TV. She loves using fabrics that have a story to tell and is always curious to try new techniques. The quilting community is an endless source of friendship and inspiration and she is very grateful to be part of it. Find her on Instagram as @jennismithsews.
We are giving away 1 Large Great British Quilter Collection! To enter-to-win, please click here to head to the Rafflecopter entry page. 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 Friday, August 10! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Monday, August 13. Good luck!
UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Carolyn Montgomery!
*All images provided by Sarah Ashford Studio and Sydney Rose Designs