2 Creatives – 4 Weights – 1 Challenge

Happy Thursday all! Today, we’re thrilled to bring you a bit more quilty magic from our friends (and Aurifil Designers & Aurifilosophers) Karen Miller & Wendy Sheppard. Friends who quilt together, encourage one another and rope each other into fun projects!! We’re ever grateful that they are always willing to share those adventures with us!   

If you recall, Karen & Wendy hosted a super fun Free Motion Quilt Along last year using Lewe the Ewe, a panel from World of Suzy Bee. The motifs chosen for each section of the quilt along were secret — a challenge between the two home machine quilters.  

Karen’s QAL Quilt
Wendy’s QAL Quilt

Now, they’re joining us to share their home machine quilted heart ornaments — perfect for Easter or Spring decorating and the result of a recent quilting challenge they dreamed up during their sew-cial distancing catch-up call. 

The Challenge:

  • Create two free motion quilted mini heart ornaments using different weights of Aurifil thread.
  • Keep the quilting a secret until the projects are complete.
  • Each designer can choose her favorite weight + one experimental weight of Aurifil thread.

Wendy’s favorite: Aurifil 50wt
Wendy’s experimental: Aurifil 40wt

Karen’s favorite: Aurifil 28wt
Karen’s experimental: Aurifil 80wt

Wendy’s finished ornaments:

Wendy’s Details: The green ornament is free-motion quilted with textures. It was actually Wendy’s warm-up piece quilted with 50wt, and then trimmed and turned into the ornament. Small ornaments or pincushions are great ways to finish your warm-up pieces.

The cream ornament is quilted with 40wt. Quilting with 40wt is something relatively new to Wendy. She challenged herself to see how small she could quilt with it. The conclusion is… pretty small! The 40wt, being a heavier weight, definitely highlights the quilting better!

Wendy’s #1 Machine Quilting Tip: “Never say Never! Sometimes you just have to try and see. In all my years of teaching, I have never had a student tell me they regret checking out free-motion-quilting. The general consensus has always been it’s easier than they had thought it would be.”

Karen’s finished ornaments:

Karen’s Details: The yellow stitched ornament was free motion quilted on a Singer Featherweight with Aurifil 28wt thread #2130 on top and 50wt thread in the bobbin. Because the feed dogs don’t drop on the Featherweight 221, Karen employed the use of a plate cover purchased from The Featherweight Shop. Karen shares a wealth of information about FMQ’ing on a Featherweight in this Auribuzz post from January 2020.    

Quilting with Aurifil 28wt thread over 2 layers of Quilters Dream Wool Batting creates a beautiful texture.

The seafoam green ornament was also stitched on a Featherweight but this time Karen challenged herself to use a fine thread, Aurifil 80wt on top while continuing to use Aurifil 50wt in the bobbin. The results are nothing short of stunning: 

The 80wt thread glides through the machine and fabric. The detail you can achieve with such fine thread is remarkable!

Karen’s #1 Machine Quilting Tip: “Wait, I have to pick just 1? Oh no, no, no — I can’t possibly pick just 1. Here are a few:

  1. Always start with a new needle, a clean machine, and high quality thread!   The new needle is the best $1.25 investment you can make in your Free Motion Quilting and the Top Stitch needle is my favorite. And thread — well — Aurifil is the best 100% Egyption Cotton thread on the market. I know you’ll love it. It glides through your machine with ease and the weight and color choices are unmatched!!   
  2.  If you make a “mistake” in your motif, just repeat the “mistake” in a minute or two — it then becomes part of the design element!
  3. Never compare your quilting to the quilting of others. You’re not in the same space, the same time, the same progression. We all learn and grow at our own pace. Love where you are RIGHT NOW and know that with Practice you’ll improve. Just Be YOU! 

Friends who quilt together, also teach together. Last year, Karen and Wendy took their mutual love of machine quilting and their friendship to a new level by starting The CraZy Quilting Girls Free Motion Quilting Retreats. They won’t say who roped who into it but these two absolutely love teaching and sharing their passion for Free Motion Quilting TOGETHER !   

Students love that Karen and Wendy share different perspectives and preferences on machine quilting. They also provide different options and encourage experimentation in finding what works best for students to jumpstart their own free-motion quilting journey.

Check out the details of their upcoming retreat in June 2020 on Karen’s website!

Thanks to both Karen & Wendy for taking the time to share their quilty adventures with us:). We are ever in awe of their skills and love getting to be a part of the process! 

Website — FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTube

Karen L. Miller, owner of Redbird Quilt Co. is an Aurifil designer, Aurifilosopher, national educator, author, and cheerleader of all things free motion quilting. She launched Redbird Quilt Co. to share her love of appliqué and show others how free motion quilting on home sewing machines can bring their projects to life. Karen plays with all weights of Aurifil thread and openly contributes her knowledge and experience to the greater quilting community.   When she’s not home enjoying the multitude of songbirds that grace the Finger Lakes Region of NY, you’ll catch her traveling the countryside sharing her passion for quilting with Guilds and Shops alike.

Karen and her husband Cliff own one crazy Yellow Nape Amazon parrot named “Cayman”. Their children are grown and they are blessed with 8 grandchildren, many of whom love to sew with Gramma Karen!

If you’re interested in learning more about free motion quilting on home sewing machines be sure to check out Karen’s website, upcoming events and social media feeds.

The Subtle Sampler
Karen is a master at quilting with all weights of Aurifil thread. Her goal when creating The Subtle Sampler was to enable you to try each weight too.  You’ll love experimenting with the subtle 12wt, 28wt, 40wt and 50wt threads in the collection. Don’t miss her tutorial for The Subtle Tree right here on Auribuzz.

12 Large Spools
Clear Monofilament, Smoke Monofilament
12wt: 6722, 6723 || 28wt: 2430, 2130, 2880
40wt: 2530, 5017, 5006 || 50wt: 2312, 2000

Website — Instagram

Originally from Southeast Asia, Wendy came to the US for her tertiary education.  After her degrees in Chemical Engineering, she worked in research in a wind tunnel for a spell.  Nowadays, she is a stay/work-at-home Mom to a 7 year old.  Wendy’s designs have been featured in major quilting publications, both home and abroad.  She is also an author for Landauer Publishing, as well as an online quilting instructor.  She is passionate about encouraging quilters to enjoy their quilting journey.  During her free time, she loves to read history, and indulges in hand needlework

Wendy decided to include fun colors in this sampler collection of different thread weights used for machine sewing & quilting. These colors might not be staples in your thread pantry, but they are ones that make a candy store look fun! If you are only familiar with one thread weight and have been curious about the others, Candies will give you a nice and practical sampling of the different thread weights for the machine.

10 Small Spools Cotton
Colors included:
50wt: 6730, 2847, 2405, 2886, 2437 (220yds/spool)
40wt: 5008, 6727 (164yds/spool) || 28wt: 2425, 2612 (109yds/spool)
12wt: 5015 (54yds/spool)

Subtle Strings
Wendy got tired of just machine quilting with beige, white, cream and light brown a few years ago. So, she started experimenting with subtle contrast in quilting and came up with her favorite colors for that purpose.

12 Large Spools of 50wt
2310 – 2847 – 4060 – 2130 – 2715 – 5021
2210 – 2510 – 2886 – 2326 – 2423 – 5014

Song of Williamsburg
Wendy’s latest thread adventure involves machine quilting with Aurifil’s newest addition to their product line: the 80 wt.  She loves the 80wt because they quilt like melted butter

10 Small Spools of 80wt:
2310 – 2600 – 2410 – 5007 – 2105
2375 – 2886 – 2835 – 5022 – 2620

1 comment

  1. These two ladies are an awesome duo!!! The machine quilting done by each of them is superb. While the outcome is similar, it is amazingly different!! Thanks for the inspiration ladies!!! 😁❤️

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