The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 5 — The Peacock Collection

We’re thrilled to have a new addition to our series detailing the Artistry of Sheena Norquay. We absolutely adore Sheena’s work and are forever in awe of the art she creates, with our thread center stage.

The Peacock Collection was released in August, with a launch at Festival of Quilts in the UK. In preparation for the collection, Sheena auditioned our 80wt, 50wt, and floss, stitching out a series of samples that now serve as a traveling tribute to her collection subject, the Peacock. Her final determination was to focus the collection on floss, though we’re not ruling out a coordinating 50wt box sometime in the future;).

100% Cotton Floss, 6-strands
10 Small Spools, 18yds each
2810, 2860, 4093, 2740, 2745, 1147, 5015, 5022, 2340, 5013

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


To enter-to-win The Peacock Collection by Sheena Norquay, please leave us a comment on this post letting us know which of Sheena’s pieces below is your favorite and why. Entry will close at 11:59pm on Friday, September 28 and a winner will be announced here on Monday, October 1. This giveaway is open to all of our International friends!

What inspired The Peacock Collection?
The collection and resulting samples were all inspired by a peacock called Polly and his feathers. It was originally thought the peachick was a female but when it was about a year old, it started growing a beautiful tail so turned out to be male, much to my late father’s delight!  Sadly, Polly stuck his head through some chicken wire surrounding my late mother’s compost heap, got stuck and hanged himself. Luckily I still have photos of him and also some of his feathers so was able to look at them for inspiration for this thread collection.

Do you have a favorite piece that was created using the threads from The Peacock Collection?
I enjoyed making all the samples but the most fascinating one I have finished so far is TWELVE FEATHERS, 120 BLENDS. I have almost finished another one with 840 colour and number variations using the same ten colours. It is stitched using a satin stitch in a basketweave pattern.

What do you love most about working with AuriFloss?
I love the fact that they are on spools, not skeins. This makes it so much easier to use the threads. I love the sheen on the threads and that you can choose to use 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 strands at a time. It is a very versatile thread. Of course the most exciting thing is that you can mix the colours in all sorts of combinations.

Can you tell us a bit more about your floss blends?
At the moment I am writing about this and so far have reached almost 5000 words!

You can begin with a simple 2 step blend using 2 colours say red and yellow. You can choose to use either 2, 4 or 6 strands. The number and colour combinations can be – 2 red, 1 red +1 yellow, then 2 yellow. 4 red, 2 red +2 yellow, then 4 yellow. 6 red, 3 red +3 yellow, then 6 yellow. You can do up to 6 step colour blends or gradations from one colour to another. For example 6 red, 5 red +1 yellow, 4 red +2 yellow, 3 red +3 yellow, 2 red +4 yellow, 1 red +5 yellow, 6 yellow. Of course there is more complex colour blending which can be mathematical like the TWELVE FEATHERS 120 BLENDS  or blending which is more random and painterly like I did for some of the Scottish Highlands Collection Samples.

We are honored to share Sheena’s sample gallery for The Peacock Collection. She is wonderfully talented and thoughtfully detailed. <3


This began by using a bit of calico which I had printed with 3 bits of non-slip material and a section of a floral sink mat. I decided to embroider a bird on to it with a layer of wool wadding behind the bird. I use 8 colours of Aurifloss for the hand embroidery which was mainly straight stitching, fly stitch, detached chain, wrapping stitch and French knots. I used 2 strands of floss. Bits of left over hand painted fabric from another project were added as borders.

The fabrics were free motion quilted with 12 different colours of no. 50 threads from the Peacock Collection in a variety of patterns. The eye is kept moving by the changing thread colours, stitched lines and patterns. Some small flowers were hand embroidered in detached chain and French knots using turquoise and yellow floss to echo the centres of the 4 large flowers.

Finished at 29 x 44cm
Created between November 16, 2017 & November 22, 2017
Total time: 11hours 20minutes

The feathers were printed with an  Indian block in the shape of a feather which I bought from Coloricious at the Festival of Quilts in 2017. The prints were second prints from another piece so as not to waste paint and I had no plan as to the composition. I made it up as I printed each feather. I dabbed the square tipped paint brush with left over brown paint on the background.

Medium weight Vilene was tacked to the back and the feathers were free machine embroidered in an embroidery ring.  I used 12 colours of no. 50 Aurifil cotton threads from the Peacock Collection, the same colours as sample 6 Bird and Flowers.  A combination of 3 colours were used for stitching each feather and 4thcolour for the “eye.” Shafts were satin stitched twice. I realised after stitching a few it was more effective to taper the ends.

I found a piece of feather print fabric that seemed right for stitching along one side and it took a while to decide which way up to hang it. The background was free motion quilted with cream thread in a pattern of squares and straight lines.

Finished at 72 x 30cm 
Created between November 23, 2017 & December 21, 2017
Total time: 33hours 10minutes

Ten feathers were printed on to calico using an Indian printing block bought from Colouricious at the Festival of Quilts 2017. I used 10 different colours of paint, either Dylon or Jacquard Lumiere. A square tipped brush was used to print the marks at the bottom of each feather.

After tacking Vilene Light Sew In stabiliser on the back of the calico, I hand embroidered each feather in fly stitch, laced running and running stitch in different combinations of 10 colours of Aurifloss threads from the Peacock Collection. I used 2 strands for stitching, sometimes of the same colour, sometimes one strand each of 2 different colours to create a blend.

The background is free motion quilted with Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads. I used 10 different colours in the bottom section to quilt between the printed marks. The same quilting design of horizontal lines with curved ends was used to quilt the rest of the background in cream thread as far up as the top section of the feathers and the very top was quilted with flowing lines to create movement. The feathers look as if they are tied to the shapes at the bottom and are floating from left to right, hence the title “Ten Swaying Feathers.”

Finished at 32 x 42cm
Created between November 26, 2017 & December 16, 2017
Total time: 14hours 30minutes

Twelve colours of fabrics to match the threads in the Peacock Collection were machine pieced, calico borders added then tacked to 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding and a calico backing. The seams were stabilised by quilting with the walking foot and invisible thread. A different feather design was free motion quilted in each shape using a contrasting thread, while the background fabrics were quilted using matching threads. The calico borders were quilted in the same thread colour as the adjoining fabrics so ten colours and patterns were used.

I liked the effect of the wholecloth stitching on the back so added tabs instead of a hanging sleeve to make it reversible.

Finished at 42 X 32cm
Created between November 25, 2017 & December 19, 2017
Total time: 18hours 50mins

Twelve different colours of fabric were pieced in a horizontal row with calico and a patterned fabric pieced above and below the pieced row. Thin Vilene stabiliser was tacked behind the coloured rectangles and curved shapes were hand embroidered using one or two strands of single and blended colours of Aurifloss.

The feather curves, which I marked with pencil on the calico, were free motion quilted with 12 colours of Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads from the Peacock Collection. I quilted up one side of the shaft and down the other side.

The feather shafts or centre lines of the lower feathers were satin stitched to create bolder lines and to emphasise the thread colours.

Finished at 20 X 20cm
Created between December 10 & 11, 2017
Total time: 4hours 10mins

The feather was printed with a wooden, Indian block bought from Colouricious at the Festival of Quilts 2017 and free machine embroidered on to Vilene as stabiliser, using Aurifil cotton no. 50 from the Peacock Collection. The turquoise zig zag fabric has 4 different small patterns free motion quilted with 4 colours of thread. The white zigzags are free motion quilted with zig zag lines which extend on to the white background fabric on a smaller scale.

Finished at: 35 x 21.5cm
Created between December 23, 2017 & January 11, 2018
Total time: 18 hours 10 minutes

The three birds were printed with a commercial wooden block which I have had for several years and hand embroidered with 2 strands of Aurifil cotton floss in different colours sometimes using 2 strands of 1 colour, sometimes one of each colour from the Peacock Collection. I used Stitch and Tear behind the fabric for stabiliser. Stitches used were fly stitch, French knots, detached chain, satin stitch and straight stitch.

Background is free motion quilted and straight line quilted with the walking foot using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads in the same set of colours.


Finished at: 32.5 x 14cm
Created between December 28, 2017 & January 14, 2018
Total time:8 hours 25 minutes

Four birds were printed with a wooden printing block bought from Colouricious, then  hand embroidered with 2 strands of Aurifloss, sometimes using 2 strands of 1 colour, sometimes one of each colour. Background was free motion quilted using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads and hand quilted using 2 and 3 strands of Aurifloss. Some straight lines were quilted using the walking foot.

Finished at: 36 x 37.5cm
Created between January 4, 2018 & January 18, 2018
Total time: 24hours20 mins

Three duck shapes, one peacock shape, 3 plants and 9 decorative circles were printed using Dylon bronze fabric paint. Diagonal lines were printed using an old, rubber, hot water bottle. Birds and flowers were hand embroidered using Aurifloss threads from The Peacock Collection. I used 2 strands either of the same colour or 2 different colours in detached chain, straight stitch satin stitch, fly stitch and French knots. Background is hand quilted using 2 strands of Aurifloss and free motion quilted using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads.

Finished at: 29 x 29cm
Created between January 26, 2018 & February 3, 2018
Total time: 10 hours 40 mins

Forty five squares were free motion quilted with 9 different colours (a –i) using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads from the Peacock Collection. The shapes were inspired by small, green peacock feathers whose edges were brown but I decided to use lots of Peacock colours. The grid was quilted with the walking foot. The edges of the shapes were hand embroidered using Aurifloss in 9 different colours (b-j) creating 45 different combinations of Aurifloss and no. 50 colours. I used 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding.

Finished at: 29 x 29cm
Created between January 26, 2018 & February 3, 2018
Total time: 10 hours 25 mins

Forty five squares were free motion quilted using 9 different colours (b-j) in Aurifil cotton no. 50 from the Peacock Collection in a different order from sample I. The grid was quilted with the walking foot. The shapes were hand embroidered using Aurifloss in 9 different colours (a-i) creating 45 different pairs of Aurifloss and no. 50 colours. I used a different stitch or stitch direction for each colour. I used 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding.

Finished at: 57.5 X 21cm
Created between February 15, 2018 & March 7, 2018
Total time:  27 hours 10 mins

I used 10 colours of Aurifloss from The Peacock Collection. Each feather is hand embroidered in fly stitch using 3 strands of Aurifloss. I cut about 12 inches of thread for each thread. Each row has a different combination of 3 colours – 1 strand of each colour so each feather has 10 different blends making a total of 120 different blends for the 12 feathers. The tops of the feathers are satin stitched in single colours. Each feather top has 3 colours.

All the hand stitching was done on thin polyester thermore. I then added 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding and backing and free motion quilted each feather using 12 different designs. Background is free motion quilted using swinging c curves in pale blue.



Sheena Norquay was born on the Orkney Islands, just off the Northern tip of Scotland. Though she began sewing as a child, it wasn’t until attending University in Aberdeen to gain a B.Ed degree that she truly dove into the world of sewing, quilting, and textiles. The degree included 2-dimensional design in textiles which inspired her interest in exploring the artistic potential of threads and fabrics.

Having been a Primary School teacher in Inverness for 30 years, Sheena is now a freelance quilting teacher and teaches workshops locally, all over the UK, and sometimes abroad. She also writes articles for magazines and her quilts have been featured in several books.

Sheena’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally since 1981 and she has won many awards in competitive quilt shows. She sells her work, cards and postcards of her work, and also accept commissions.


  1. Oh goodness! These are the colors of my bedroom inspired by the peacock ! I love love love the 8 colored feathers pattern!!! That needs to hang on my wall!

  2. I really like all of them, but Sample 7 calls to me with the differences in textures and everything about the piece. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  3. Are you kidding me? A favourite? I love them all. I’ve been starting a peacock stash to do EPP that I plan on big stitch quilting. This would be perfect! If I have to pick a fav, it would be Sample 7, but that might change in the next 30 seconds or so … beautiful work!

  4. What lovely pieces. They are all beautiful, but my favorite is TWELVE FEATHERS, 120 BLENDS, as I love the hand embroidery on the feathers.

  5. I LOVE all the feathers & birds but I have to say my favorite piece is the woven stitching under the Auirfloss spools! The blends of the colors & variegated looks of changing colors across the length is beautiful & interesting. I could look at it all day!

  6. Her work is amazing. I am selecting Sample #10 — Ten Swaying Feathers although a couple of others were a close second. It is hard to say why I chose that one. Her colors are wonderful.

  7. LOVE 12 Feathers/120 Blends. What a great exemplar of using a small number of threads but expanding them to so many variations

  8. I love them all she is so talented its hard to pick a favorite I think for me its her Tweet Tweet one I have bird feeders on my apple tree in my backyard. Any time during the day I have all these beautiful birds chirping outside and her pattern reminds me so much of them. I have finches, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, I wish I could have a peacock out there too they are stunning with their colors. I would love to have her peacock themed threads as well.

  9. All of the above are so beautiful. If I must pick a favorite, it would be TWEET TWEET. I love little birds and the wonderful colors and the intricate work. Such a blessing to have such talent!!

  10. They are all beautiful! My favorite is the eight colored feathers. I love peacocks because we had them on the farm where I grew up. I enjoyed seeing them fan their tails. They were great watch “dogs” letting us know when people came into the yard.

  11. A very difficult choice to choose just one, as they are all so appealing. If someone let me pick one to hang in my home, I think I would have to go with #16, Poser’s Parade. These wonderful colors are just what I love, and I appreciate the chance to win them. Thank you!

  12. O wow, they’re like eating Lay’s potato chips (LOL) it’s really difficult to choose just one!! But my favorite would be SAMPLE 7 – EIGHT COLOURED FEATHERS because I love those colors and I love feathers!! This is a perfect blend!!

  13. Sample7- eight coloured feathers is my absolute favourite.
    I Love the movement the thread has created in the feathers in this particular sample. The colours used are so real too.The printed fabric used, also complements it very well.
    Absolutely admirable work! Stunning and inspiring!!! Wants me to try something like this.😃

  14. My favorite is Feathers in Boxes 1. I like that the individual stitches and colors are so visible. Love all of them however.

  15. So hard to choose, but No. 12 has a soothing rhythm to it, sort of like grasses in the wind, that keeps drawing me back to it. I love the simplicity and repetition of it that really highlights the colors.

  16. I am a bird lover and a feather gatherer of old. Whilst all are amazing, no.10 speaks to me in volumes. And what a lovely mix of thread colors!

  17. I just love the beautiful stitching and colors of all these wonderful works of art. I think I could try the Sample 24 & 25 designs myself. I’d love to take a class some day from the master herself!

  18. They are all beautiful, but my favorite is Sample 7 Eight colored feathers. The colors, detail and textures all combine to make a lovely piece.

  19. Birds and flowers (20) is my favorite, although I could tell you my favorite aspect of each of these wonderful creations. I love the way the texture from the hand stitches and the texture in the foreground with the machine quilting comes together to create such a wonderful piece. Love the colours and the way the birds are stitched.

  20. I love Sample 7 the most. It just provided me with the technique that I will use for a wedding quilt for my son and daughter-in-law. (I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with a method it achieve the end result I want, and THIS IS IT! I’m so excited !)

  21. I really like No. 20, birds and flowers. It has a wonderful combination of everything — printing, embroidery, hand and machine quilting and wonderful thread blends.

  22. I actually saw the basket-weave sample at the Festivak of Quilts and was amazed at Sheena’s mathematical precision when blending the colours.

    My favourite of the named samples is Sample 23 – Forty Five Blends I.

  23. I have a complaint about this contest! How are we supposed to pick out only one piece of art when they’re all so wonderful? I have to pick, so I’ll pick 7 feathers, it struck my eyes first. Jadahlgr at Yahoo dot Com

  24. Sheena’s work is gorgeous! My favourite is SAMPLE 27 – TWELVE FEATHERS, 120 BLENDS. I love how the tops of the feathers look like they are moving in the breeze.

  25. Sample 7, 8 Coloured Feathers. The feathers are so similar to the ones my Mum had in a vase at their last home, and there are just 8 of us in our combined families now. This was so touching , and what amazing talent Sheena has, And to see her work, in photos is wonderful. jeanmck77at gmail dot com

  26. I love Ten Swaying Feathers! The feathers, (and the whole quilt!) dance with joy! The colors are so beautiful too. Thanks for the chance to win!

  27. I love sample 7 – the feathers look like they are moving in a soft breeze and the colors are so rich. The quilting is fantastic texture.

  28. They are all amazing but my favourite is sample 7: Eight Coloured Feathers. It inspires me to have a go at stitching feathers!

  29. Love the Eight Coloured Feathers. The combination of colours and added texture of the squares in the background is stunning. Thank you for sharing your techniques Sheena.

  30. I love sample 7: Eight Coloured Feathers! 💕 Everything about it, the colours, the fabric, the background stitching and especially the feathers!.

  31. You have inspired me to make a feather quilt. My Eclectus parrot Kermit gifts me with beautiful feathers he’s molted. I have them to use as a pattern.

  32. Awww my favorite first is the eight colored feathers, the colors are just so beautiful and bring back memories of peacock feathers my mom always had around our house. But I also love the tweet tweet birds they are adorable!

  33. The 8 colored feathers is my favorite. I like the swirliness of the feathers and the way the fabric, thread and feathers all join together. All of the designs were beautiful, but I like this one best.

  34. Each sample I saw I thought this is it! My favorite!
    Then I would see the next one! No this is it!
    I think now that I have seen them all, and love them all.
    My favorite is number 11. I think it is the more traditional look with the different blocks of color.

  35. It is very difficult to choose as they are all beautiful. However, I think Sample 27, Twelve Feathers, 120 blends is stunning. The way Sheena has blended the colours to make different 12 feathers is sheer artistry! I would love to be able to explore colour like this -it will be a long journey for me!

  36. Absolutely gorgeous set of threads. Sheena’s work is stunning. I met her at the Festival of Quilts and she spent time chatting about her techniques. The 12 Feathers quilt is fabulous.

  37. I’m so excited! My grandson is in love with anything peacock… I can’t wait to try and make your free pattern.. thank you so much! 🥰🥰🥰❤️😘🤗😊

  38. I need these colors, I am making a Peacock Quilt – from a panel and assorted peacock print fabrics. Having these colors to use would really be a great finishing touch.

  39. Maureen Vamplew
    Sample 24
    Although they are all beautiful I love the precise delicate look of the peacock fans .The colours look as soft as feathers .

Leave a Reply to spierssusanCancel reply