September Aurifil Designer Kate Toney

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 September we head to the golden tones of Sicily. We will be inspired this month with our Aurifil Thread box featuring 3 gorgeous shades of yummy yellow.

Always up for a challenge, you will love how Kate Toney, our designer this month, not only embraced yellow but is now inspired by it. Follow Kate at Tough Kitten Crafts. You are going to love her challenge block. It’s just perfect for a sunny thread box and we hope you 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 Kate!

Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?
I live in Orlando, Florida! I’m from Colorado so when we moved it was a huge shift because Orlando had not come into its own yet. At that time Orlando wasn’t much of a city outside of the theme parks but now Orlando has grown into it’s own city and there’s always something to do. I love exploring the surrounding neighborhoods that are full of locally owned restaurants, small business and beautiful art.

Having said that…anyone who knows me knows that my favorite place to be in Orlando is Disney World! As passholders we spend our whole fall and winter at Disney (summer is way too hot here). Once “this” is all over I will be so ready to get back to eatin’ popcorn and riding wandering around at Disney World.

When was your FIRST quilt sighting?
My ex boyfriend was Australian and I got to go spend a month in Sydney, Australia (amazing place, highly recommend!). His mother was a truly incredible quilter and her quilts were the first I had really seen where I could understand the precision and artistry in a quilt, so I asked her if she could teach me. I love to knit, crochet and I even did a little sewing on a machine I got as a graduation gift but I had no idea what quilting really entailed. I left Australia with two quilt blocks I had made and a new obsession.

I worked at a hair salon and eventually left that job so I could go work at a local quilt shop which led to me becoming a long armer at the shop and teaching BERNINAs. Now I have my own business teaching others to machine embroider! All from two little quilt blocks and a slow day in Sydney. Making is truly magic.

Do you have a GREAT tip on either storage, organization, sewing, stitching, find a tip that works for you.
Anyone reading this have ADHD like me? Getting that diagnosis as an adult is something I am very vocal about across my platforms because I believe it’s important people know they aren’t alone, recognize the signs and symptoms and get diagnosed so they can help themselves. I have finally been able to work with myself and not against my nature and it’s been life changing, especially in the areas of organization and storage.

I, like everyone, drool over the gorgeous, perfect sewing spaces you see online but that’s just not my reality! I will never keep a room that way or put things back perfectly, something I’m learning to fully accept and yes…the accepting and . I know you probably think “but with serious discipline I could!” Honey, I have thought it too, over and over and over again. But I can’t. It’s not how our brains work! We literally aren’t wired that way!

It has been so freeing to learn about ADHD and understand how my mind is wired. With that I’d love to share my best tips for sewist with ADHD (or those who just have a hard time keeping their space organized):

  1. Make things incredibly easy to put away. If it takes more than one step you probably won’t do it. Open bins to toss stuff in are your friend.
  2. Sacrifice cuteness of space for use of space. You may not be able to have a Pinterest perfect space and that’s okay! You need a space you can utilize effectively more than anything
  3. Accept that the room is not “clean” or “messy”, it may always be in a state in between and that’s absolutely okay. It’s a constant work in progress and that’s just fine, it doesn’t say anything about you or your room.
  4. Look up organization and cleaning tips for ADHD. It’s mind blowing and feels so good to be understood and realize you’re not alone. I love for her awesome ADHD ebooks especially the one on cleaning!

Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making?
I’m talking to all my fellow perfectionists when I say: It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I know you just tuned out but please stick with me! You hear it, maybe even say “Yes! So true!”, and then a short while later you’re back to beating yourself up about that mismatched point, the quilting that crosses over itself or the border that waves instead of laying flat. I have abandoned so many ideas that lit me up because it didn’t go perfectly from the jump.

Give yourself the space and the understanding to mess up, take your time, learn as you go *and* still enjoy it.

The real gag is that, as a perfectionist, even embracing a lack of perfection will be imperfect. Some days you’ll be like “Yup! That’s fine, feelin’ good! Move on!” and others you’ll still feel the burn of the imposter syndrome. Give yourself some grace (preferably, a lot of grace) and keep making.

Quilts cannot keep anyone warm, they can’t be a gorgeous show of love, they don’t get to introduce more beauty into the world if they go unfinished, unmade, abandoned in favor of perfectionism.

You do a lot of machine embroidery with Aurifil thread, what are your top tips?
I use Aurifil cotton almost exclusively on all my machine embroidery, which always shocks people! When you get that gorgeous new machine, or dust off that old embroidery module, don’t feel like you have to invest in a whole new set of polyester thread…use that gorgeous Aurifil cotton thread you have.

The biggest and most important thing you have to remember when embroidering with cotton thread vs polyester is this: It works the same.

How anti-climatic is that? But it’s true! I have had people message me to say how this person or that dealer is telling them that cotton doesn’t work for machine embroidery, it’s difficult, it will cause issues, all sorts of warnings that I, quite frankly, don’t find to be true. My BERNINA handles it perfect with no special accommodations and I have heard the same from other machine users as well.

So, go for it! If you’re like me you’re gonna love having that gorgeous Aurifil collection cover you for pretty much every type of product.

In case you’re just getting started, here’s a blog all about embroidery with cotton thread:

Are you a Dog or Cat person??
If you have a pet share the photo and tell us about them, how they inspire or entertain you)

If you follow me on Instagram you probably know Alfred, my sweet dog. He has a bed under my sewing table and will stay there the whole time I sew, embroider, do instagram lives, whatever. He’s my constant companion, where I go that sweet face follows.
Amelia, my precious and loving cat, doesn’t get as much online attention as Alfie but she’s my true love (Don’t worry, my boyfriend knows it). She’s more like a dog and keeps all the pets in line for us. She’s the best snuggler, our most loving pet, but she takes no crap from the dogs. It’s aspirational really.

And of course, Arya! She’s my boyfriend’s dog and she’s so funny. She lives in her own world, likes to make a scene by barking and howling, she’s both skittish and largely unbothered but most importantly she’s a corgi/husky mix. Yes, you read it right. She’s basically a husky with corgi coloring and legs, it’s too cute and super unique.

Favorite snack food:
I have frequently hosted best french fry contents on my Instagram. Potatoes are the perfect food though, in any form, as a snack or meal. I even had a huge, largely ineffective but very cute, french fry phone case for a year or so.

Where’s your favorite place to take an out-of-town guest?
You already knew I was gonna say Disney, right? Yup. That’s the one. I worked at Disney as a face painter and my dad worked for Disney as well (meaning we got in free and spent years going weekly or multiple times a week). So if you’re looking for a Disney tour guide, I’m excited and ready! Disney/Sewing retreat anyone? I think it needs to happen.

What else would you’d like to share?
I would love for anyone is excited, intimidate by or curious around machine embroidery to join me in the Tough Kitten Crafts FB Group on Facebook. Here I teach all about machine embroidery and want to empower every single maker to use their sewing machine to it’s fullest capabilities.

I specialize in BERNINA machines but having a BERNINA is not a requirement for joining this group and learning with us. Having said that a lot of BERNINA owners sign up to come be a part of the Tough Kitten Crafts community so I can help them learn more about their machine and utilize it to it’s fullest extent.

For BERNINA embroidery users I do have a mini training available called B.E. Genius that you should check out. This training will teach you every screen, button and icon on your current model BERNINA embroidery machine. Learn more at:

Tell us how you used the Sicily Golds for your block.
Having never been to Italy the only frame of reference I have is through two formative experiences in my life: Watching the Godfather and going to Epcot. Yeah, not the best or most well rounded points of reference

When I was assigned yellow a year ago, I was so annoyed. At the time I hated the color and wasn’t sure how the heck I’d make it work. Yellow. Plumeria? Maybe? Ugh.

2020 is a bizarre year for so many reasons and not least of which, the fact that I somehow fell in love with all shades of yellow. At the beginning of the year I said goodbye to my signature jet black hair in favor of bright yellow highlights and since then I haven’t taken my foot off the gas of my new found love of the bright hue.

But hey, if there was ever a year that needed this bright sunny color then 2020 is the one.

With a new appreciation (obsession?) with my challenge color, I really wanted to do it justice and started thinking about what Italy meant to me which is really weird since I have never been there. I joked to my boyfriend that the closest I have ever been to a trip to Italy is sipping limoncello with loved ones at Epcot’s Italian pavilion.

There it was! The inspiration lay within some of the most “me” things possible: A throw away joke, citrus and Disney World.

Also, I know so many of you are thinking “Yellow. Italy. Lemons. Duh!” and to that I have zero response cause you’re so right. Especially when one of my most popular Aurifil posts to date are my 12 wt Citrus Applique Blocks.

Being a Florida woman I love all things citrus so I was thrilled to dive into creating the lemon inspired block.



Visit Kate online:
— For more tutorials/help check out her blog:
— For BERNINA users who want to learn their machine:
— Follow Kate on Instagram:
— Kate goes live weekly in the Tough Kitten Crafts FB Group so hop in:

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

CLICK TO VISIT MY Website for a few tips on how I select thread colors & my patchwork background

Enter your block BELOW by Oct 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 Billie’s  block! You’ve been emailed

CLICK to see all the great versions for last months HERE

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