This month’s Thread Matters – The Aurifilosophy Series allows me to introduce Aurifilosopher Tammy Silvers of Tamarinis. Tammy is an amazing pattern designer, a fabric designer for Island Batik, an educator, a Studio 180 Certified Instructor, and truly one of the biggest cheerleaders you’ll find in the quilting industry. Tammy shares her love and knowledge of embellishing with us this month. You’ll be wowed with what she does with a variety of weights of our lustrous Aurifil thread.
If you missed the January introduction of Aurifilosophy and this fun new Thread Matters series click here to read more. Consider scheduling an Aurifilosophy Program for your shop, group or guild – learn more here.
Karen L. Miller ~ Redbird Quilt Co.
I’m just going to admit it up front – I LOVE fusible projects. They are quick, easy, and versatile. Fusible projects offer unlimited opportunities for embellishment with the best thread out there – Aurifil.
Do I have a favorite weight or type? Ummm…..no. I do like to mix it up. Each weight has its own unique set of qualities. As you’ll see, I prefer a simple straight edge stitch for my fusible machine appliqué pieces. But no matter what your stitch style is, heavier Aurifil threads work beautifully to enhance your appliqué.
Aurifloss works like most floss. It has six strands that can be used together or separated to vary the appearance. Don’t let the spool confuse you – this is a HAND thread. I often get that question from my students. Since it is on a spool, some think they can pop it on their machine. Please don’t! But… the spool does make the floss easy to work with. No nasty tangles when pulling off a length!
Here’s a fun stitch idea – vary the number of strands used. In Lotta Love, I embellished this little wall hanging with floss on wool fused to burlap. Using a mix of 6-strand, 3-strand, and single strand, along with a variety of simple stitches (stem stitch, back stitch, straight stitch, and French knots), I added additional texture and interest.
In my Primitive Stitch Sampler, I adore how six strands look on white wool fused to colorful pink batiks. Be sure to find a large-eyed SHARP needle when stitching through tighter thread count fabrics. This is a bit harder than cross stitch, but well worth the effort!
Yes, you CAN use wool thread in your machine! As with the 12wt cotton, just loosen your thread tension (you may need to play around to get it just right). It is IMPORTANT to loosen the top tension so that you don’t shred this more loosely twisted thread. Once again, you’ll need a larger eye needle to reduce stress on the thread. I also skip the last guide when threading my machine (you know that little guide right before threading the needle? That one. Skip it – let your thread go directly from the take up hook into the needle. Really!) As with other heavier threads, use a matching 40wt cotton thread in your bobbin.
Wool thread may not look like you expect it to. If you go slow and even with your stitches, it will provide a lovely, smooth stitch that has a bit more texture than your cotton threads. You might think, based on its fuzzy texture on the spool, that you would have a line of fuzzy stitches, but that’s not the case. Personally, I find it shines best with longer, larger stitches.
I love the heavy look of 12wt done as a simple straight stitch along the edge of fused appliqué motifs. It looks stunning on all fabrics, and is heavy enough to hold its own, whether in a contrasting color or in a coordinating color.
For Geraniums, two colors of thread (a springy green and a deep pink) add just the right amount of definition to the raw edge fused appliqué.
In this table runner, coordinating 12wt thread provides texture without any additional color to keep the lines clean and simple.
When working with 12wt, there are a few things you’ll want to do for best results:
- Loosen your top thread tension to reduce drag on your thread
- Use a heavier needle with a larger eye opening (I like 100/16 sharp)
- Use a matching 50wt thread in the bobbin
- GO SLOW. Not kidding. If you stitch at your regular speed, you may encounter skipped stitches. Yuck!
For me, 28wt is the perfect balance between a heavy statement (12wt) and a whisper (50wt). Again, you’ll want to loosen your top tension, use a heavier needle, and use a matching 50wt in the bobbin.
Don’t be afraid to mix cotton thread with wool appliqué. The look is AMAZING! I adore how the Aurifil colors are PERFECTION on a stick when matching to the wool. The simple edge stitching in 28wt adds definition to the shapes within the appliqués on the coasters from Olive You, providing a crisp clean look.
Some final tips when working with these awesome heavier threads and fusible appliqué:
- Increase your stitch length. A note on this – make a sample piece to practice on. Try different stitch lengths (and widths if doing an overcast/wide stitch) to see what will look best with your particular project.
- I have found that simpler stitches work best with this thread. And when I’m working with layered pieces, I find that I have to continue to lengthen my stitch as I add layers in order to achieve the same stitch length.
- Remember that stitch length will be “sucked up” by the thickness of the added layers of fabric, wool, or flannel. In the examples below (the pink detail on the butterfly wing, the additional layers on the flower, and leaves in the border appliqué), I had to INCREASE my stitch length with each subsequent layer to keep the stitch length appearance the same.
Again, a practice piece will save you every time. Try out stitch lengths AND the needle placement on the practice piece and write it down. I keep a post it note on my machine when working with appliqué pieces so I can be consistent throughout the entire construction of the project. For example, I like a fairly “close to the edge” stitch, and depending on the project, usually find that a needle placement of 6.0 to 6.5 works best, along with a stitch length of 3.0 to 4.5. Thank goodness for post it notes!
Create your own signature looks in your projects by using different thread weights, or even by mixing different thread weights, to give your work of art more color and texture. Remember that there isn’t really a wrong choice – it is YOUR project and YOUR creation. Have fun with it!
Blog — Facebook — Pinterest — Twitter — Instagram
Tammy Silvers is the designer behind the brand Tamarinis. She’s been designing quilts for 10 years, and prides herself on offering bold, fresh new patterns for quilters of all levels. She enjoys working with almost any fabric, but her favorites (the one that makes her drool and blow a carefully constructed budget) are batiks, bold prints, and chicken prints. Having a background in art and literature, another of her guilty quilty pleasures is finding ways to use “words” in her work, be it in the fabric itself or by adding them to the piece.
Tammy is a Georgia native and currently lives in Acworth with her husband, children (when they come to visit!), dog, and her favorite fat cats.
Under the label Tamarinis, her designs are regularly published in a variety of quilt magazines, including Quilt, McCall’s Quilting, American Patchwork and Quilting, Stitch, Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting, Quilty, Quilt It…Today, Sew It…Today, Stitch and Create and Decorate. She also works with some of the major fabric manufacturers designing projects to showcase and promote their fabric lines, including Island Batik (of course!), Northcott Fabrics, Blend, Camelot and Fabri-Quilt.