Thread Matters 2020: Handmade Made Easy

Greetings fellow thread lovers! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m excited to reintroduce Sarah Maxwell of Designs by Sarah J. Sarah is one of those magical unicorns of the textile industry. She is a designer for Marcus Fabrics, an Aurifil Designer, an Aurifilosopher, a pattern designer, an author, AND she owns and runs a brick & mortar shop, Homestead Hearth. She also has her own line of acrylic templates, was the featured designer for the 2020 QuiltMania BOM, and is working through a series of wonderful industry collaborations with companies like OLFA & Grace, and with other respected designers. Huge thanks to Sarah for sharing her project ideas with us — we sure do love those Capri colors!

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.

As a long-time quilter, I’ve learned that my friends and family really appreciate receiving something I made when it comes time for showers, birthdays, or holiday celebrations. But often there isn’t time to make a full-size quilt for everyone. One of my go-to ideas for a quick gift with a personal flair is using handwork to embellish a purchased item.

I tend to gravitate toward teals, purples, and blues when selecting fabrics for a project so the Capri Color Builder (2835 – 1148 – 4093) is my ideal palette. When I discovered it perfectly matches my You Are… fabrics, I knew I could pair the fabrics and threads for a fun project. [Find the You Are… fabrics at your favorite quilt shop, or at Sarah’s shop HERE.]

Start with a plain canvas tote or look for one that has colored accents to match your embellishments. They are inexpensive and easy to find on sale! Next, think about what you’d like to do to personalize the tote. A fun way to create a focus piece for your hand work is to use English Paper Piecing. Hexies quickly become a hexagon flower which can be stitched on to the tote bag.

When stitching my EPP hexies, I always use Aurifil 80wt in a neutral grey. The thread just melts into the seams making my stitches invisible. The SewTites™ magnets help hold my work-in-progress without pins.

The technique is totally portable, meaning I can stitch away during those random free moments waiting for a call or at an appointment.

Once the hexie flower is stitched together, it’s time to plan out the hand stitched embellishments. The Capri colors are a great range of teal blue shades.

I like to mix Aurifloss and Aurifil 12wt to create different effects and add dimension. Start by securing the hexie flower to the tote bag with a simple whip stitch around the edges using Aurifil 12wt thread and a chenille needle. Then the fun really begins!

Outline the center hexagon and stitch across it diagonally several times with all 6 strands of Aurifloss to really accent that element of the patchwork.  A chenille needle + Clover embroidery needle threader are the secrets to easily threading a needle when using thicker threads. Big stitch outline quilting around the flower highlights the shape. The same heavy duty chenille needle works perfectly for big stitch quilting as it easily pierces the surface of the heavy duty canvas.

The sky’s the limit! Add additional stitches on top of the individual hexies, or on the seam lines of each piece. Continue adding echo big stitch outlines around the hexie flower for more contrast.

The only thing left is to decide who is going to receive some handmade happiness!

Thank you so much to Sarah for this great gifting idea! We love how she mixed 3 different thread weights into one project!

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Sarah’s love of quilting stems from her college days, when her mom sent her pink dogwood quilt to grace the bed in her first apartment. The quilt was a comforting reminder of her home in the Lake of the Ozarks, where the dogwood blossoms always signaled the start of spring.

A few years later, married and expecting her first child, Sarah caught the nesting bug. Inspired by the treasured dogwood quilt, she bought a Teach Yourself to Quilt book and crafted her first quilt. She continued to improve her skills through classes at local quilt guilds, as well as learning from gifted teachers throughout the United States, fully taking advantage of modern conveniences, such as rotary cutting and computer design, as they became available.

Today, Sarah is a fabric and pattern designer for Studio 37 Fabrics, a division of Marcus Fabrics, with countless quilts to her credit. Her work has been featured regularly in both McCall’s Quilting and McCall’s Quick Quilts for the past several years. Additionally, Sarah’s quilts have appeared in Make Modern, Simply Moderne,  American Patchwork & Quilting, and Quilts & More, as well as many other magazines.

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