Thread Matters 2020: Tuscan Inspiration

Greetings fellow thread lovers! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m excited to introduce author, sewist, fellow Aurifil Designer, and one of our newest Aurifilosophy team members Jenni Smith to Thread Matters 2020 – The Aurifilosopher Series. If you’re not already familiar with Jenni, I know you’ll find her kind, witty, creative, and awe inspiring! Jenni is from the North of England and I hope to visit her sweet studio one day. Sit back and enjoy the unique projects that Jenni adorned with the July Color Builder, Tuscany. Thanks so much for the inspiration Jenni!

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.

Happy Stitching!
Karen L. Miller ~ Redbird Quilt Co.

I am very excited to have joined the Aurifilosophy team – it sounds like the best qualification for a very eclectic maker like me who loves dressmaking, quilting, and having a go at most other stitch based projects. My studio is full of all Aurifil thread weights and working with the team at Festival of Quilts each year I really enjoy making samples to demonstrate the versatility of each one.

This month we are celebrating the gorgeous orange hues of Tuscany. My first trip there was aged 14 when all the girls in my family (my nan, mum, two sisters, and I) went to Florence. From that moment, Italy stole my heart and I went on to study Italian at University and have since spent a lot of happy adventures in this beautiful region. Fields of sunflowers, incredible hill-top towns, the long shadows cast by Cypress trees and the warmth of the sun are all memories I have been thinking about whilst stitching up a few projects I would like to share. These threads also remind me of a favourite holiday drink – Aperol Spritz – though perhaps don’t drink it whilst sewing!

The first way I used the Tuscany colours was in a lampshade project. I had this beautiful quilting fabric called Conservatory Fruits from Liberty’s Summer House Quilting Collection and the bright orange motifs and dark green background instantly reminded me of the Tuscan landscape. I bonded some fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric and fussy-cut a selection of leaves, fruits and flowers.

I arranged these onto a calico natural background and secured them in place using the iron. The background panel size was determined by the instructions in the lampshade kit I had purchased – approximately 1m x 25cm. Now the real fun began when I used the different thread colours and chose a variety of decorative stitches on my machine to embellish the fabric and add some texture. 50wt thread works very well for detailed decorative stitches but you can go heavier too – even up to 12wt so long as you have the correct needle on your machine (I use a top stitch needle for 28wt and 12wt threads).

The final step was to follow the lampshade kit instructions and apply the stitched panel to the adhesive background and wrap around the two rings provided. Lampshades are a fun way to incorporate your love of fabric and stitching into your home– and it also an inexpensive way to brighten up an interior space. I would really recommend giving it a try. The base of my lamp is a wooden spool salvaged from an industrial mill, which fits the theme nicely.

The second way I used the threads was to sew up this new top. The fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn, which is lightweight and complemented really well by 50wt thread. I constructed all of the seams with my Aurifil – going over the underarm twice to add strength and topstitched it too.

The colour was just perfect and I can’t wait to wear it on a sunny day. People often shy away from sewing garments with cotton thread but on a loose-fitting top like this one it works really well and I love the bright finish of Aurifil compared to the dullness of polyester!! The pattern is the Roberts Collection by Marilla walker.

Finally I have a cushion, which is an abstract interpretation of my garden studio – which has a bright orange door as you can see! I began this block during a class at QuiltCon in Nashville in 2019 and it has been on my design wall since. Orange and blue are complimentary colours and blue is a colour which ends up in many of my quilts so a selection of orange threads will always be extremely useful – and it is surprising how many different tones there are. I think the Aurifil colour builders have really highlighted that fact – life is more exciting when you have different creative options to play with!

I used 80wt thread to quilt this cushion – something I have wanted to try for a while. I love 80wt for needleturn applique but I was a little apprehensive how the finest thread produced by Aurifil would behave on my machine. The result was quite a revelation – it simply melts into the fabric and creates a really light and soft quilted effect. I used 50wt on the bobbin, a size 70 needle and had no issues at all. This is a combination I will definitely revisit.

I have also now ordered these colours in 12wt because I want to sew up a denim bag and think the orange will be perfect for adding details.

Thread colour can sometimes be an afterthought but switching your mindset to use it as a starting point for a project can be really fulfilling. I hope that in using the beautiful colors of  Tuscany, you are encouraged to try something new!

Thanks so much to Jenni for sharing her projects. We love the added inspiration for how to use various thread weights and the ideas for exploring and expanding color palettes!


Jenni is a UK based sewing teacher with a busy studio in the North of England. She produces dressmaking and quilting patterns and her debut book Quilting with Liberty Fabrics will be released in Fall 2020 with Lucky Spool Media.

Jenni is also the founder of the Just One Quilt campaign which includes over 45 short films sharing heartwarming stories from makers and includes an online education platform with Jenni’s Ultimate Quilt Course for absolute beginners. Community projects are at the heart of Jenni’s business and the big dream is to encourage everyone to make Just One Quilt in their lifetime!

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