We first met Alyce Blyth of Blossom Heart Quilts as a Aurifil Artisan. We’ve always been impressed with her style, her impeccable points, her fabric pairings, her bright and crisp photography, and her unflinchingly fabulous choice in thread;).
When she wrote with the news of her book, Mini Masterpieces (Lucky Spool), we jumped at the chance to take our collaboration to the next level.
Mini Masterpieces is everything we’d hoped it to be, a smart and stunning collection of mini quilts, made easily achievable by Alyce’s expert guidance. From patchwork to improv curves to EPP, Alyce takes readers through a variety of techniques, explained in small scale. The mini quilt is the perfect way to practice without committing to the time necessary to complete a full quilt.
Alyce selected 12 Large Spools of our incredibly versatile 50wt thread to coordinate with the minis in her book. They are bright, warm, and subtle, a remarkable combo! The threads are the perfect partners to create a range of modern Mini Masterpieces!
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
12 Large Spools, 100% Cotton 50wt
2270 – 2220 – 2235 – 2140 – 1114 – 2865
4093 – 2740 – 1128 – 1243 – 2021 – 2000
We’d love to hear a little more about you, your background, and what first drew you to this wonderful and creative industry of ours.
I was always being crafty and creative, trying all kinds of crafts from as young as I can remember. At first, quilting was just another thing to try, albeit the one with the bigger upfront cost to get a sewing machine! But I was pretty darn hooked from the get-go, with so much to learn and try and read… and buy! All that gorgeous fabric was so inspiring. It still is!
I was also obsessed with reading quilting blogs – it was the golden age of phones having the capability to browse the internet and at the same time, everyone was blogging regularly. As a mum of a newborn and up at all hours for feeding, being able to read blogs on my phone one-handed while feeding was fantastic!
We then moved to Japan in early 2012 and the online quilting community kept me going as an easy source of (English speaking!) friends who really understood why quilting had become such an important part of my day; who understood that instinctive need to create. I also started my own quilt blog – Blossom Heart Quilts – not too long after we arrived in Japan to be even more involved in the fun!
What inspired me to make the jump from quilting as a hobby to a job wasn’t so much the financial side of careers at first. I have a teaching background, and a love of maths and puzzles, and when I realised that those three things can combine with quilting through tutorials and designing, I started down that path. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a few years later I would be here with a book, a thread collection, regularly releasing patterns, and more!
Do you remember your very first quilt?
Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what my very first quilt was, but I’m pretty certain that these two are the first finishedquilts I made. Two little baby quilts that used flannel for batting and were finished off by the bagging technique – I was too scared to attempt binding! The disappearing nine patch quilt was made with clearance Spotlight fabric, and the patchwork quilt was a Moda charm pack. My fabric tastes have certainly changed since then! But my love of patchwork and classic quilt blocks is still going strong.
Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
The recipient of each individual quilt is always my creative inspiration. Whether that’s a new niece or nephew and I joyfully and lovingly choose the fabric to use that has sentimental value, or a quilt design that I know will bring a smile to my sister-in-law’s face when she saw her son’s new Totoro quilt!
Or it’s the customer who is the recipient for a new quilting design and I think about what new technique I’d like to teach or a popular precut size I’d like to focus on.
How did Mini Masterpieces come about and what did you love most about the process of putting it together?
My book, Mini Masterpieces, came out of that desire to teach others and to encourage creativity, even if it’s just one 6” block at a time. Mini Masterpieces features 12 different quilting techniques, with a sampler block and a mini quilt pattern for each technique. We start off with the humble patchwork squares and strips, and then work our way through triangles, curves, and then finish off with other piecing – applique, EPP and FPP, before making two different sampler quilts from the blocks.
One of the best parts of the whole process was choosing the fabrics for each quilt. I had my rough plan, but making that come to life, and for the whole book to feel cohesive (no sudden switch to 1930s reproduction, for example) was such a fun process. There was one particularly epic day of fabric shopping and thank goodness for the wise help of Clair to help hunt down the perfect shades!
I also had to be careful to not make one quilt from only one designer (a Lucky Spool policy) which was a fun challenge to tackle – how to be inspired by a designer but to not use just their fabrics?! Geese Lightning is one such example of that. I started with a few of Carolyn Friedlander’s fabrics, and then filled in the rest with fabrics by other designers.
Do you have a favorite quilt included?
Isn’t that like choosing a favourite child?! Well, don’t tell the others, but the Blossom quilt would definitely be in my top 3 – partly due to the colours I used for this one (I adore coral and mustard together), but also because of the opportunity for colour play in future versions!
And the other top favourite would have to be XOXO. This one nearly drove me insane due to machine tension issues right as my deadline was looming, but oh boy was it worth the battle! So I’m looking forward to remaking it with more time on my hands and a problem-free machine, ha!
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
That learning or developing a new skill isn’t so scary and can be as simple as making one little sampler block to get yourself over that mental hurdle of “I can’t” to realising that “I can!” And achieving that new skill doesn’t have to be proven in a big quilt project – a mini quilt is just as much a masterpiece.
Is there a favorite tip that you’d like to share?
Whether you keep it with your sewing machine’s accessories or in a dedicated travel sewing bag you take to sewing days and retreats, always keep a spare spool of thread for piecing on hand. There’s nothing worse the packing up your machine to take out and about, only to arrive and realised the spool is still back at home on your sewing table!
Why is using Aurifil such an important piece of the process to you?
I have been using Aurifil thread for years; the quality of the thread had me hook, line, and sinker from that very first spool! And the range of colours and thread weights available have kept me hooked on tight ever since. Knowing that I can use one colour in the 50wt to neatly stitch my English paper piecing project, and then use the same colour but in a 40wt for quilting, and all the while matching the fabric AND the thread working for both hand and machine work?! That’s such an invaluable tool to have up my sleeve! Or in the drawer next to my sewing table…
Your coordinating thread collection released last month. How did you go about putting that together and is there a particular significance to the colors?
I knew from the start that I wanted it to not only coordinate with the quilts in my book, but also form a great basic toolkit of threads to begin or compliment quilters’ thread stashes. Having a rainbow of thread colours on hand is so useful for piecing and quilting!
When it came time to narrow down the specific thread numbers, the neutrals 2021 and 2000 were a given. They’re the two neutrals I use allll the time! For the rainbow, I first picked out the coral (2220 – my favourite!) and the emerald (2865) as these colours coordinate with my book’s design colours.
I then used those to build out a rainbow of similar tones for each colour to match the rainbow quilts in my book, especially the two sampler quilts. Whirlpool matches the warmer colours and was quilted in 2021, and Ripples matches the cooler tones and was quilted in 2000.
What excites you the most about getting this collection out there?
I love that I’ve created a collection of threads that is so versatile. It has a little bit of everything you could need for piecing and quilting, no matter what colour your fabrics are! Being 50wt, this means that they can be used for piecing, quilting, English paper piecing, and applique – I believe that 50wt is the most versatile, that’s for sure!
Where can we find you this year?
Well, in just a couple of weeks, I will be headed to Quilt Market for the first time to promote my Mini Masterpieces book and thread collection! I’m excited to check it all out and see everyone. And eat Mexican, always gotta have Mexican and margaritas when I’m in the US!
I also host a Sit & Sew day at Nuno Nuno in Melbourne on the third Tuesday of every month, so if you’re a local or in town, pop on by!
November is busy with a new pattern, Origami, being released on the 4th, the book hop for Mini Masterpieces, and an exciting announcement for something happening in March 2020… stay tuned for that!
Fueled by lattes, Alyce loves designing, making, teaching, snuggling, and giving quilts (except making binding, she doesn’t like that). She is inspired by her family, her Australian surroundings, and of course the pretty fabric, to quilt according to her motto: create what you love, with love, to love. Learn more here.
Images by Alyce Blyth and Page + Pixel for Lucky Spool as noted.