Thread Matters 2020: Vintage with a modern twist

Greetings fellow thread lovers! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m excited to introduce our talented Canadian friend and Aurifil Distributor Gail Heller of Erie Quilt Art as one of the newest Aurifilosophers and this month’s contributor to Thread Matters 2020 – the Aurifilosopher Series. Gail has a beautiful modern aesthetic that she combined with some very special and traditional art using the calming hues of September’s Sicily Color Builder.

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’m sure we all have stories to share about the events of 2020 and how they have affected us. Today, I’d like to focus on the positive and share a special project I made using the stunning yellows from the Sicily Color Builder. The colour yellow has always invoked feelings of welcoming love, joy, sunshine, and tradition and it paired perfectly with the project I had in mind.

This summer, I had the privilege of driving 3,600km across Canada and back again. My dad’s sudden stroke required my parents to move to a retirement home and they needed my help. While packing their belongings, I realized I had inherited my love of the arts honestly, seeing handmade items by my mother and grandmothers. Driving meant I could bring some of the treasures home with me. Among them were many beautiful doilies that had been crocheted by my Babci (Polish grandma). Doilies have gone out of fashion as household items but they were too beautiful to discard. Inspired by something similar my friend Linda Schmidt had created a few months ago, I decided to make them a bit more modern.

Here is my step-by-step process:

  • Select a feature fabric. I chose to use one that I’d hand-dyed with my friend (and Aurifil Designer) Ana Buzzalino. It was absolutely perfect!
  • Create a fabric sandwich using the feature fabric, batting, and backing.
  • Matchstick quilt with Aurifil 50wt 2105 pale yellow. I varied the distance between stitches for interest – two rows close together and one farther apart.

  • To make the doilies lie flat for stitching, I stretched and pinned them like crazy and it worked! Some makers suggest using a cornstarch solution to stiffen the doilies and block them onto fabric, but I wanted them to stay soft and was thrilled that my method worked.
  • I stitched the doilies to the background using the same pale yellow 50wt Aurifil 2105 and I love that the stitching faded into the background.

  • To avoid the foot catching the doily, I used the transparent curved scoop attachment for my Bernina BSR foot and it worked like a charm.
  • I used Aurifil 50wt 1135 to free motion quilt ‘ghost doilies’ onto the background. In preparation for that quilting, I used a disappearing ink pen (Bohin’s Adger Chako Ace Pen) to mark circles as a guide and then just had fun with it.

  • I finished the wall hanging with a gallery facing and will attach it to the wall with 3M command strips.

For all of you with a drawer full of grandma’s doilies you can’t bear to part with, I hope this project has been inspiring. I think these wall hangings will make wonderful Christmas presents. This one is certainly the first of many and it will have a special place in my home!

Many thanks to Gail for sharing this fabulous project idea with us!! We’re certainly inspired to give it a try! 

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Gail Heller is the owner of Erie Quilt Art Inc., a Canadian wholesale company located in Calgary Alberta Canada. She supplies Quilt Shops and quilting businesses across Canada with Aurifil thread and many other great products. Gail loves to create and quilt in her spare time. She has given talks, shared trunk shows, and taught classes for quilt guilds and shops across Canada and was the International Master Quilter Instructor at the International Quilt Festival in Suzdal, Russia in 2016. Gail has published articles in a variety of Canadian quilting magazines and has had three of her original designs published in Studio 180 Design’s books “Hunter Star Hidden Treasures” and “Royal Treasures” and in Schiffer Publishing’s book “Fly Me to the Moon”. 


  1. I love your project. I have several doilies made by loved ones & have often thought about incorporating them in a quilt. You have inspired me!

  2. I love this so much!! Coming from Serbia where my grandmas and everyone did these doilies so much, this is exactly what I want to do with some!! I love this modern twist!!

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