May Designer of the Month Sarah Ashford

I’m Designer, Author, and your host for this program, Pat Sloan.  This year we challenged each designer to create a block inspired by our Aurifil Color Builders’ collectionI assigned each month a color/city and the Designer can work their magic using either the City, the colors or both! Each designer has their box + matching Kona Cotton Solids from Robert Kaufman in the shades of the thread. I also gave each designer a charcoal linen from Robert Kaufman for them to use if they like.

For May we head to the pink Beaches of Sardinia. I really want to see these beaches in person! We will be inspired this month with our Aurifil Thread box with 3 gorgeous shades of pink.

Pink is the perfect color for talented designer Sarah Ashford! She works with happy colors and loves to add embroidery touches. Sarah also the founder of the Great British Quilter Podcast, you’ll need to take a listen. See her work at and listen to her show there. You are going to love her challenge block and have fun making it.

Missed a month from previous years? CLICK FOR PRIOR DESIGNER interviews

We have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview. Each month we select one random winner to receive a 3 boxes from our Color Builder series.

All you have to do is making the challenge block that you download below and share it at the link! Details at the end plus last month’s winner!

Let’s get to know Sarah!


Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?

I live in a small town called Wellington in the South West of the UK. It’s surrounded by fields, hills and countryside, but it’s centrally placed to get to bigger towns and cities.

For me and my family, it’s perfect! I live with my husband, two children and 2 guinea pigs. Life is busy and non stop, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you have a Storage tip?.

If there’s one thing I love it’s talk about organisation and storage! One thing I think people find the hardest is how to store their fabrics. I tend to store mine by size. So, for example all my yardage of half a yard or more is mounted onto an acid free comic book board and displayed vertically on my shelf in color order. It makes me feel like I have my own shop!

I keep all my fat quarters together in trays and trunks, again roughly in color order. I like to keep fat quarter bundles together, usually with a piece of ribbon tied around them so they look pretty. And finally I keep my scraps in buckets and boxes. I’ve discovered the best thing to do with scraps is literally tip them out onto the table and have a good rummage. You will always find unexpected happy combinations and it’s a great chance to just ‘play’ with fabric.

It can get messy but when you’re done you just pile them all back in the box again. I also have a separate jar for my Liberty Tana Lawns and I like to keep all my solids together too.

Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making

I think my biggest quilting lightbulb moment was when I first started designing foundation paper pieced patterns. I suddenly had a vision in my mind of a FPP hot air balloon, and got to work designing straight away, even though I had just got out of the shower! At the time I had very limited experience of designing FPP but I knew I could make it work. My Up and Away Baby Quilt Pattern has become one of my most popular patterns.

Sarah you do a lot of collaborations with other designers, from working with The Quilter’s Planner to starting the Great British Quilter event. What motivates you about working closely with other designers?

I get so much joy from working and collaborating with other quilters. Through this community I feel like I have found my tribe, and it gives me such pleasure to work with them, and promote companies and professionals that I believe in. I’m proud to be an integral part of the Quilter’s Planner team ( and I founded the Great British Quilter to strengthen the quilting community here in Britain.

Tell me more about the Great British Quilter.

About 3 years ago now I had the idea to start an Instagram photo challenge that focused on British quilters. I felt like we had so much talent but that it wasn’t always being recognized and that we lacked a collective identity in some way. And so I thought the challenge would galvanize everyone and be a bit of a celebration of all things British and Quilting, which is exactly what it was. People made friends through the challenge, learnt about new shops and online stores, about new designers, found new quilt patterns, picked up quilting tips; the response was just wonderful and it’s just gone from strength to strength.

From there we had the Great British Quilter Aurifil Thread Collection, which is a box of twelve 50 weight threads. It was a super popular collection and each color was championed by a high profile British quilter. In 2019 I launched my debut fabric collection, GBQ Back to Basics, and there’s an accompanying thread box; this time twenty 12 weight threads. 2019 was also the year I started the Great British Quilter Podcast, where I interviewed quilters, professionals and shop owners to give an insight into the industry. It’s available to listen to on Itunes, Stitcher and my own website Series 2 was due to record in early 2020, but due to the travel restrictions, this is on hold for a while. But it WILL be back!

What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?

For many years I used to sew at the kitchen table, and then I migrated to the bedroom, and finally when we returned to the UK I was lucky enough to have a studio of my own. So I fully appreciate every inch of space I have, and have managed to fill it to the brim! I have a large cutting table and pink cutting mat in the centre of the room, with an ironing board next to it.

Behind me are bookcases full with fabric, notions, books and magazines. I also have a desk for my sewing machine, which also doubles up as space for my laptop. I then have a chest of draws with my Cricut Maker on top, so that I can make my glitter vinyl project pouches. I have lots of storage draws for quilts and yet more fabric, and a tiered set of trays (the ones everyone has!) full to the brim with fat quarters and fabric. I’ve even spilled out onto the landing, with quilts adorning the banisters, pillows on the chairs and more boxes and trunks full of fabric. My studio is a dream come true and I love every minute I get to spend in here.

What is your favorite book you have ever read and why??

Well that’s an impossible question! I love reading and a book that really spoke to me recently was a book called Greta’s Story. It’s actually written for children and I bought it for my daughter. It’s all about how 15 year old Greta Thunberg went on strike and started protesting as a way to get politicians attention to do something about climate change. Her force and determination to fight for a better planet for us all is just so inspiring. I hope Greta inspires a whole new generation of activists, prepared to fight for important causes that they believe in.

Dog or Cat person?

I do like cats and dogs, but we don’t have either, we have guinea pigs! We have had Cookie and Bubbles for a year now and they bring me so much joy. I just love watching them eat (they eat a LOT) and sitting with them on my lap is a great way to relax after a busy day. The children love them too but funnily enough it’s mostly me who cleans out their hutch…

Tell us more about your debut fabric collection!

I’m so thrilled to have my own fabric collection. It’s called GBQ Back to Basics for Dashwood Studio, and it’s a blender collection with subtle reference to all things British and quilting, with a little nod to social media, where the Great British Quilter began. It includes text prints, low volumes, simple graphic prints, bold colors, pastel shades and of course black and white stripes, as we all love a stripy binding!

As I mentioned before, there’s an Aurifil thread collection to go with it, this time in 12 weight, which is perfect for hand quilting and embroidery. With 20 colors in the collection, I have a shade for every project.

Tell us how you used the Sardina pinks for your block

I wanted to design a block that represented Sardina, but also represented a little bit of me too. The triangle at the base represents the mountinous landscape of Sardina, which plays host to wonderful festivals celebrating crafts, cuisine and culture. The hearts represent the love we all have for Italy, especially during the enormity of the difficulties they face right now. And the top of the block represents the rays of the sun; beautiful sunsets and rays of hope. I’ve chosen Foundation Paper Piecing for accuracy and precision, and I hope you enjoy stitching this block as much as I’ve enjoyed designing it.

Thank you so much for inviting me to be an Aurifil designer for 2020! It’s been such a pleasure and I hope quilters enjoy sewing up all the blocks and celebrating all the wonderful things Italy and indeed Aurfiil have to offer.


Sarah has a Paper Piecing Tutorial
And her ‘top tips for FPP’ :


Visit Sarah at:

Instagram: @sarahashfordstudio

Facebook: sarahashfordstudio

Each year I make the Aurifil blocks in a totally different set of fabrics.

CLICK TO MY Website for a few tips on how I made this block

Enter your block BELOW by June 14, 2019 to be in the running to win a SET of 3 Aurifil Color Builder Thread BOXs!

An InLinkz Link-up

And  JOIN my fantastic online quilt group with the most incredible  quilt show each day… I’d love to meet you!

1 Watermak-Needle-Black

******* JOIN our Aurifil Family  *******

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted email

random number picker selected GJone’s  block! You’ve been emailed

CLICK to see all the great versions for last months HERE


  1. Pat Sloan, I went on FB to join your group. I answered the first question, then the page disappeared. lol. I have a Handi-Quilter 710 sewing machine. I’ve quilted for a few years. My FB page is Just Keep Stitching with Floral and Mary-Ann. My instagram is @Just.keepstitching
    you may see my work there. My email is
    My daughter and I share this site. We are in the process of setting up our site.

  2. Great interview, Pat, and congratulations to Sarah! 🎉 I love your color way for her block and the other ones on the Aurifil page. Above, it says to enter a block by June 14, 2019, to win an Aurifil thread box. Is this from last year?

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