Thread Matters 2020: Thread Blending

Welcome all! Today, we’re pleased to present a new installment of Thread Matters by Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator Karen Miller of Redbird Quilt Co. Karen is our go-to thread maven. We’re forever in awe of her mad quilty skills but love that she’s always at the ready to help with our number one thread questions. HUGE thanks to Karen for working with us on the subtle colors of Verona.

If you missed the 2019 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 is hosting a Giveaway of her Subtle Sampler collection on her blog — Click HERE to join in on the fun.

Happy Stitching!


Greetings fellow creative souls and many thanks for joining us for the April edition of Thread Matters 2020 — The Aurifilosopher Series. This month we’re celebrating Aurifil’s April Color Builder collection, “Verona”, while experimenting with a bit of thread color blending.

I couldn’t be more excited about the lustrous neutral colors included in this collection.  The trio complements my current creative palette.  From dense background quilting, to faux ruched flowers and having just the right shade of thread to disappear into my needle turn appliqué – the 6724 Moonshine, 2375 Antique Blush, and 6731 Tiramisu are spot on.

The moment this collection arrived I was anxious to apply the colors to one of my more recent UFOs.

You see #2375 Antique Blush pairs perfectly with a quilt I’ve needed to finish since taking a Fabric Collage Workshop from the ever so talented Lorraine Turner of Calico Horses. You know Lorraine – she’s a master of fabric collage & thread illustration who also loves to use Aurifil thread in her art. Here’s one of my favorite creations by Lorraine.

A Song For Carrol by Lorraine Turner

In the ” Silent Awareness” Eagle Owl workshop I attended with Lorraine, she mentioned using a thread blending technique that sounded intriguing. Lorraine runs 2 different colors of Aurifil 50wt thread through the eye of a single needle. I was excited to give this technique a try on my red feathered friend!

Lorraine encourages the use of thread painting (with our favorite Aurifil threads) to blend the fabric sections of the collage, turning them into an original work of art. I was excited to blend the beautiful #6731 Tiramisu with Aurifil 50wt #1103 Burgundy to give the eagle owl feathers an edge of glitter against the dark red fabrics.

First I prepared my machine. My 1949 Featherweight,  “He Who Has Yet To Be Named”, was set up in the living room and ready for the adventure. I inserted a new 90/14 Top Stitch needle. Remember – the top stitch needle has a groove all the way down the front of the shaft. It’s my FAVORITE needle when using heavier weights of Aurifil so I thought it would come in handy when using multiple strands of the same weight. I also inserted a bobbin of 50wt and began experimenting with mounting 2 different spools of thread.

Option 1
I wound each color on a plastic bobbin and stacked both bobbins on the original Featherweight vertical Spool Post. I stitched several sample runs with them both coming off the bobbin clockwise, both counterclockwise and then I tried a sample run of one of the threads coming off clockwise and one counterclockwise. Although these setups worked, at times the bobbins jumped and spewed out more thread than necessary. Thankfully my machine accommodated all that thread without too much incident.

Option 2 
I used a combination of my Featherweight horizontal Thread Post (read more about it here) and an external thread stand – each holding a spool of thread. This solution seemed to work more consistently, feeding the thread from both spools more evenly than Option 1.

Option 3
Using the bobbins from Option 1, I mounted both on the Featherweight horizontal Thread Post. This option worked pretty well – I was pleased with the results.

I played around a bit more with the Option 3 setup, doing some Free Motion Quilting on a small sample piece. I really love the way the blended stitching looks. I intentionally quilted a long stitch to highlight the blended thread resting on top of the fabric.

Once I had the setup worked out I went straight to work on my WIP.  Although I have a little more fabric selection and placement to do (yep I do!) I was anxious to try the blended thread technique on the bottom grouping of feathers.

NOTE: It was necessary to play with the tension when switching from the batting and backing of my sample pieces to fabric, canvas and interfacing of my WIP.  

Voila! I was successful in stitching the blended threads as planned. Many thanks to fellow Aurifilosopher Lorraine Turner for suggesting this approach!

Lessons Learned:

  • If you have a machine with 2 thread posts – use them!!
  • Using a 90/14 top stitch needle seems just right for 2 strands of 50wt thread.
  • Blending shows well with a longer stitch length.
  • It’s fun to try something new – even if you have no idea what to expect

While I was investigating the beautiful city of Verona, Italy I found this great blog post online.  I’ve already decided I must visit there one day.

Thank you, Karen, for sharing some of your thread adventures with us! 


MORE ABOUT KAREN
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.

THREAD COLLECTION
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

284 comments

    1. Hi. I just love your work. I’ve got a 1938 Featherweight which I loved before but now it would be the machine I grab first in an emergency. I’ve just made over 150 masks for my son’s construction company. This little work horse does a better job than the newer machine. It goes over thicker folds and does reverse tacking more smoothly than anything.
      As I take a break from masks I want to try more FMQ work. I’ve got the accessories from the Featherweight Shop. They are the best! I’m also amazed at how easy it is to FMQ and how good it looks on the Featherweight. Be safe’. PJ Kytlica. pjkytlica@aol.com

  1. I love Auriful Thread for piecing quilts and now I’m using it to sew masks for family, friends, and others who need them. Karen’s post about FMQ on her Featherweight was great, I need to get a cover for my feed dogs and try FMQ on my machine.

  2. Karen, this is beautiful! I love the owl and how the thread blending looks on him! Awesome work! Thanks for sharing your talent with us!!

  3. Looks like you are having great fun with thread blending. I’ve never used two colors at once. Sounds like I may need to give it a try. Thanks for the wonderful steps and pictures.

  4. I’m going to try this! Great way to use the bobbin thread left from previous projects. Love Karen’s work and aurifil thread, wish I can own all of the colors!

  5. I’ve never tried two threads at once. It does look really nice though. I like the idea of using the two bobbins as the thread source.

  6. Wow I never would have thought of using thread like this. Simply amazing not sure I have the skill for anything like that!

  7. Karen, this looks like so much fun! I am definitely going to try using two threads. I always learn so much from you!!

  8. What an interesting idea using 2 threads through the needle! Your bird is looking really gorgeous already, I look forward to seeing it in all its glory when it is done.

  9. Very interesting technique that I look forward to trying. It is always nice to learn the process of what works and what doesn’t. Thank you for that.

  10. I really need to get my Featherweight tuned up so I can do more playing on it. So many things to try with Aurifgil thread.

  11. I’m so intrigues with your featherweight quilting. I need to fish through my many feet to see if I have a darning foot. I have 50+ vintage machines and oodles of feet to look through.

  12. I really love the Calico Horses. I’m from farm/ranch country so it hit home. It is so beautiful. My go to thread is Aurifil. My go to color is 2600 for piecing my quilts and ruler work. I have not tried thread blending. Maybe I can try this after a little coaching.

  13. I’ve never tried thread blending in quilting, and I don’t know why–I used to do it all the time when I was cross-stitching. Thanks for the creative push!

  14. I have seen many of Lorraine’s creations, but did not know about the thread blending. Now that you have shown your owl, I can’t wait to see the finish!

  15. The owl is amazing, and I can’t wait to see more. I plan to try thread blending, too. Thanks for the hints.

  16. Awesome thread blending. So very cool. I like the colors as well. angielovesgary2 atgmail dotcom

  17. Love Karen’s work, and have been so fortunate to have taken a workshop with Lorrain. Aurifil thread is such a pleasure to work with and threadpainting adds so much life to our creations! Love the interplay of blending 2 different colors.

  18. Oh my gosh, I love the two threads idea…never did it, I will give it a try!!! Thanx Karen!

  19. Such amazing ideas! Can’t wait to try them. Love Aurifil 50 wt. for putting together my quilts. Excited to try the 12 wt. and 40 wt. threads as well. Thanks for sharing!

  20. This is such a great idea! I’m thinking when I have a problem during social distancing with finding the perfect color, a combination of 2 Aurifil threads will look great colorwise and add nice texture. Thanks!

  21. Wow! Wouldn’t have thought to free motion on featherweight. Using the two threads looks great as does Mr.Owl. Use Aurifil thread for my piecing, love it.

  22. Thanks, going to try some double thread on some wool applique recently finished to give it a bit of extra something.

  23. I never considered using more than one thread through the needle – what a great idea! And I have now ordered my horizontal thread post attachment. Thanks for all the great tips and lovely work to see!

  24. I love your feathered owl. You are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your beautiful works!! Aurifil thread is my favorite to use in my 1939 featherweight!!!

  25. I have used 2 threads with a twin needle, but I have not tried this blending technique. Something new to play with!

  26. Aurifil is my only thread but threadpainting will be a fun new challenge. Thanks for the detailed information!

  27. This was so informative as I didn’t know you could use two threads in one needle!
    I just have to remember to use the 90/14 needle. Aurifil is my “go to” thread. Thanks for experimenting and showing us your wonderful results!

  28. Aurifil thread is my favorite to use on my 1937 featherweight. This thread can be used on almost anything you sew. I use it when mending clothes and for quilting.

  29. This is all new to me. I AB-SEW-LUTELY love the horses! Now I’m going to my sewing room and try this! Thank you! Beautiful work!

  30. The owl is so impressive – and all the rest too. Your threads – Aurafil – are wonderful. I’d love to try free motion quilting with my Featherweight. Thanks for sharing this work.

  31. Thanks for the tips on using 2 threads. Can’t wait to start using your tips, will make all so much better!

  32. This was a really interesting article. I never thought about using 2 threads like this. Thanks for the FW tips too! I’ll try this!

  33. My Wee Scottish Lass is my daily driver for piecing. I can’t wait to let her have a go at free motion! Thank you for the tips using two threads. That will kick the new ideas to another level.

  34. I use Aurifil thread all the time, but would not have thought to use two colors at once nor two threads through the same needle.

    1. I’m impressed with your beautiful eagle owl! I tried thread blending a number of years bF (before Featherweight) on my shark quilt. I used 2 different shades of green together, and got just the perfect shade for my quilting. I encourage everyone to give it a try.

  35. What beautiful work. Such great inspiration for me. I am somewhat intimidated but seeing your blogs makes me want to step outside my comfort zone. I am an Aurifil junkie 😉. Best thread on earth. Bless you.

  36. Absolutely gorgeous and so creative. Would love to try this thread on my ‘new’ featherweight. Thanks for the inspiration.

  37. What a great combo of colors! Ordering the foot cover today and can’t wait to try freeform on my featherweight! Thank you!

  38. I need to get some Aurifil. Did I miss reading what was used in the bobbin with double-Aurifil on top? If it’s single-Aurifil I’ll be considering a second bobbin case, just “set” for Aurifil. I love the effects I’ve seen here today. I’m imagining beginning baby-steps with one spool of black and one of white.

    1. Hi Diane — I did mention loading the Featherweight Bobbin with Aurifil 50wt thread — it’s my GO TO weight for bobbins in all of my machines. I’d love to see your test run — feel free to post it on my Facebook page @redbirdquitco — or tag me in any share you do. I’m in the Featherweight Group too — so tag me there if you share there. PS — try something a little easier on your eye for your first run — like white with pink or another pastel. A pastel will give you a little more eye-candy for you to swoon over 😉

  39. So excited to learn my Featherweight can free motion!!! My Featherweight was a gift my niece. We lost my niece last summer. Since my machine was her last gift to me, I named it after her – “Jenny Lynn” I quilt with our church group and we make quilts for Veterans and Disaster Relief.

  40. Wow this is a wonderful and beautiful piece of quilted artwork! Thanks so much for sharing your tips and tricks with us — this is something I have always wanted to do but have yet to learn. Your article is encouraging and very good with instructions about thread. Thanks so very much!

  41. Wow, I am amazed at all the different options you tried when figuring out how to use two threads to stitch with. Thanks for sharing!
    Kathleen – kakingsbury at verizon dot net

  42. Very interesting technique! I haven’t done free-motion yet, but it’s nice to know I have the option to blend threads.

  43. What beautiful FMQ. This takes working with a Featherweight to a whole new level. Aurifil is my favorite thread. The colors are so bright your work just shines. I’ve only seen work with 2 threads completed with a twin needles on other brands of machines. Thank you for sharing.

  44. It never occurred to me that I could use 2 colors of thread on my Featherweight! The owl is simply amazing – gives me great ideas for my cat collage. I have done some thread painting, but generally used variegated threads. Thanks to your efforts, I can now add color blending to options.

  45. Your quilting on the Featherweight is so inspiring! I had no idea there was a plate to cover the feed dogs! I am going to have to try this on my Featherweight!

  46. Oh My, what an awesome gift that I would love to have and try.,, I haven’t ever used the Aurifil thread before…would love to try it on my mom’s featherweight that she got in 1957 for us 4 girls to make our clothes for school..I have the machine now,, and just finished about 100 masks on it…sews like a dream…oiled it really well, before I put it up…ThANKS FOR THE OFFER…

  47. So glad I found your blog. I switched to Aurifil when my previous go to thread started linting like crazy! Will be buying the feed dog cover and start to play when making masks slow down!

  48. Aurifil is my go-to for the greatest colors out there, including 12 wt floss 😉 I love some of your great ideas-especially the two bobbins on the thread post. I recently bought one from the Featherweight shop and will try that soon!

  49. I am really motivated to get my great-grandmother’s 1936 Featherweight in sewing condition. I’m getting up the courage to machine quilt. Aurifil is what I have for thread in this quarantine.

  50. Lovely work. I have a 221 Featherweight, and will give it a go. Do you use your normal piecing foot or do you have another suggestion?

  51. what a great idea to use the two bobbins on the threadstand! i love it, the only machine i’ve used two threads with had two spool pins so the bobbins are genius.

  52. Didn’t think this was possible, Can’t wait to try it. I use Ariel thread, and love it. The shop I go to has a thread club using this thread. It is my go to thread.

  53. Thank you so much!! I love Aurifil thread and I can’t wait to try the blending!!! It looks awesome !!!

  54. I just ordered the horizontal thread post for my Featherweight. Need to give this a try. Your work is beautiful.

  55. this is so inspiring and beautiful I cant wait to get a feather weight ! iv been dreaming for almost four years and have followed and admired you. thank you,

  56. I love the colors of thread in your collection! What an ingenious idea of using two threads in a Featherweight!

  57. This looks like such fun! I can’t wait to try using two threads, Thanks for the advice, and for sharing this beautiful work.

  58. You are amazing Karen. Your work inspires me to keep trying. The featherweight is a sweet machine. Someday.

  59. Thanks for the interesting techniques and tips for using 2 threads to quilt. Might have to try it soon. Would love to win your sampler and try out Aurifil and compare it to what I normally use. Thanks.

  60. Very interesting use of threads! Blending both shades gives a totally feathery (word?) look to the edges of the Owl. Love the interest it adds! Always you, Karen! You are a master of quilting and thread use!

  61. Karen, you are such an inspiration to all Quilters! You have so much enthusiasm for your “work”! Thank you for sharing your experience so all of us can be successful in our quilt adventures!😘

  62. I am so inspired to try FMQ. Have never done this before. I have three featherweights that are just dying to be used for something different than straight sewing.

  63. Wow! I am so excited to see your beautiful work and all of the possibilities that await those of us who love quilting on our Featherweights!!

  64. Karen love the Thread Painting so exquisite. There is a special moment when I thread my FW with Aurifil Thread.
    I practice Free Motion and love the beautiful give away, it would be a dream.

  65. I have never used Aurifil thread before. I am not anywhere close to a place which has it on hand and it is very difficult to try to match colors online. So, winning would really be exciting.

  66. I never thought of doing this kind of thread work on my featherweight! Thank you for your clear and precise explanations, Karen…this is beautiful!

  67. Your Eagle Owl looks awesome!! As always, try something new and different, it will surprise you with what can happen! Thanks for your encouragement!

  68. Such a great project and great information. I love the different experiments and I am not surprised the more stable spool holders were the winners. Bobbins are somehow a little more tricky, aren’t they?

  69. Wonderful. I am a new convert to Aurifil Thread
    And am excited about all the possible colors and yummmy textures you can create

  70. Thanks! What a great idea.I’ve used my Featherweight for free motion quilting on one quilt. You inspire me to try this two thread method.

  71. You do beautiful work, can’t wait to try myself. I always love to try something new. Stay safe and healthy.

  72. Wow, just wow. I can’t imagine quilting on my ‘fancy’ machine, let alone on a Featherweight. What a beautiful project. Thank you for sharing and all the information about needle size/thread weight/configuring the spools.

  73. Very good discussion and clear pictures of your set up. Pictures are often more help than the words. Thank you.
    I never would have considered 2 threads in the Featherweight before.

  74. I never thought about using 2 threads in 1 needle… and I had no idea a Featherweight could do such gorgeous work! I’d love to own one someday!

  75. What amazing work you do! And what lovely threads! I’ve been using my great aunts 1946 Featherweight forever, what a work horse, and am excited to try FM quilting on it. Thanks for the inspiration,

  76. Years ago I tried blending threads for machine thread painting and forgot how lovely it looked. Thanks for reminding me – I’ll have to do it again!

  77. An inspiring tutorial to try on my featherweight. I love Aurifil thread, my go to for piecing and quilting!

  78. Never thought about thread blending and it is such a wonderful idea. Looking forward to trying it to create a custom “variegated thread” for free motion quilting.

  79. Karen, I credit you with my introduction to Aurifil..Just loving it and all the creative projects you are always willing to share. Thank you so much for all your inspiration and the excliting way you get me “out of my funk” and into my sewing mood. Bonny bbroadt@verizon.net

  80. Aurifil thread is the best. The colors in your collection are amazing. Will have to try the thread blending – sounds very creative!!

  81. I am really learning a lot about the different weights of Aurifil thread and how to use them in quilting. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

  82. Quilters love to try new things and in this case it has beautiful results. I also hadn’t thought about trying free motion quilting on my Featherweight.

  83. Thread blending and painting can change the way your project looks tremendously. I’m fairly new to quilting but just started free motion quilting about 6 months ago and love thread painting so can’t wait to blend as well.

  84. Love the ideas and tips to let the threads show off. My favorite is the horse and I’m not a horse person

  85. I really liked how you used other birds in the owl. I really appreciate having to look deeper. Thanks for sharing your techniques with us. I also didn’t realize how many weights Aurifil makes and their uses. Thanks again.

  86. need to try the aurifil thread. Haven’t used it yet but heard a lot about it so would love to win these so can try it.

  87. So interesting and inspiring! I’ll need more thread soon, using it all up to make masks with my featherweight! Looking forward to other projects before too long!

  88. The thread looks like one that I need to add to my collection. I love the look of varigation and thread blending .

  89. Thank you for showing how to set the machine up for dual thread stitching. I am going to try that on my wonderful Featherweight. Such great and versatile little machines.

  90. Karen! Thanks for providing all these great suggestions! and I LOVE Aurifil, it never disappoints!

  91. I have not done free motion quilting on my featherweight yet. I love your presentation of the process. Being quarantined for the time being I am going to simultaneously have your presentation on the computer while I get out my featherweight and practice. Thank you so much.

  92. Hi. Thank you for the great giveaway! I love the owl….what a beautiful job, Karen. I’m intrigued with the thread blending and can’t wait to try it this afternoon. I use only Aurifil thread in both my Featherweight and Bernina 880 and love the consistency of stitch quality and wonderful color selections. I use the 12,28,40 and 50 weight threads and enjoy experimenting new stitches and techniques. Again, thank you both Karen and Aurifil!

  93. I love the idea of blending threads. Did you put them through the tension dial as if it were one thread or did you try to separate them? I can’t wait to experiment with this myself.

  94. There are so many beautiful colors. I would love to win a package so I might try this new hobby!

  95. Love using two threads. Have been doing it for years. Haven’t used my Featherweight for free motion though.

  96. What a great idea … and to be able to do it on your featherweight is even better. I like that horizontal spool holder and should get around to ordering one. I do have top stitch needles so will have to try them out with you technique. Thanks for all the experimenting and information.

  97. Karen, I love your thread blending technique. Very clever! I also love the colors of your Aurifil Thread collection. Very pleasing!!!

  98. Simply beautiful! I have only started thread painting using my Singer 301 but am excited to try your technique on my Featherweight. Thanks for the giveaway!

  99. Love the thread painting. Never thought to use my feather weight machine. You work is so… nice. Thank you for the give a way. Really love your owl.

  100. Your creativity and your designs are so interesting – you have definitely motivated me to want to try some. I have used 40, 50 & 80 wt Aurifil and love this thread! It has been great to work with!

  101. Karen..you never cease to amaze me! That looks stunning! I’m going to have to give this a try. Thanks so much for sharing, your talent is awesome. I needed a special color thread that I didn’t have in aurifil so I used another brand. My feed dogs were full of lint as well as my needle and post. Never again..Aurifil is and always will be my go to thread. Stay well and stay safe.

  102. What an intriguing idea – two threads at once! I have never tried that, but now you’ve got me thinking about the different color combinations and effects I can create. Can’t wait to give this a try on my machine! Your work is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for your inspiration!

  103. I can’t wait to “soup up” my feather weight. So excited about the possibilities! Aurofil is my go-to thread. I have a Bernina that practically regurgitates if I dare try any other thread. She knows me so well!!

  104. My absolutely favorite thread. It makes me look like a much better free motion quilter than I really am!

  105. Obviously I have underrated the extent of my Featherweight’s capabilities! I love it dearly for piecing but have not let her explore other techniques!

  106. Gorgeous work. I’ve got to try this technique. I do wonder if you had put a felt pad between the two bobbins (on the original post) IF it would have helped the excess thread spooling off. I’ve had it happen to me before and truthfully never thought to try this til I saw your photo. I’m gonna havta go play. lol Thanks for your post.

  107. I have thought about using two threads together, so glad you did so now I know it can be done. Yay. I love Aurfil and going to thread up tomorrow and blend. Thanks again.

  108. You are brilliant and a wonderful inspiration. I love following you on Instagram and seeing your journey with your Featherweight.

  109. New to your blog and your style of quilting. Yes everyone has their own style. And I’m impressed with yours. Your owl is very cool. I was on a different sight today and a person asked if anyone ever had trouble with Aurifill thread leaving a lot of lint. I committed back and said no that it must be ether the fabric or the batting she was using because Aurifill should not give off lint like she was describing. Thank you for all you do.

  110. Great idea! I’d love to try thread blending on my Featherweight, haven’t tried FMQ on it yet.

  111. I love collage quilts. The idea to blend threads would never have occurred to me. Thanks for the idea and instructions.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: