Thread Matters 2020: one with nature… and thread

Welcome all! Today, we’re pleased to present a new installment of Thread Matters by Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator Karen Miller of Redbird Quilt Co. Karen is our go-to thread maven. We’re forever in awe of her mad quilty skills but love that she’s always at the ready to help with our number one thread questions. HUGE thanks to Karen for working with us on the stunning colors of Amalfi!

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!

Greetings Aurifil thread lovers! It’s Karen L. Miller from Redbird Quilt Co. sharing a little thread inspiration with you for the October version of  Thread Matters 2020 – The Aurifilosophy Series.

With so much going on in the world I find it calming to take a few minutes each day to focus on and give thanks for the simpler things in life.

Finger Lakes, NY – Photo by Brady Hommel,  @bradyhommel

In the Finger Lakes Region of New York, the fall season is particularly beautiful because the abundant hardwoods grace us with endless color, the native flowers bloom with joy, and, as the grapes near harvesting their wonderful aroma fills the air in and around the lakes.

A few days ago as I roamed our rural property trying to release the troubles of the day I spotted a native wildflower that filled my mind with excitement because the colors were so similar to the beautiful purple hues of the October color builder, Amalfi.

Pulling out my camera phone I snapped a quick image and decided to try my hand at free motion thread painting the wildflower onto muslin with no pressure to duplicate its beauty but with full intention of being inspired by it.

Knowing that I would use the Amalfi hues for the flowers petals, I scanned my Aurifil thread stash and choose supporting thread colors for the leaf and stamen of the flower. I took care to select a heavier weight thread for the stamen so the completed piece would take on a 3D appearance.     With Aurifil 28wt being my favorite, I selected both green and yellow shades.

I prepped a 9” square of muslin by fusing it to a lightweight Heat n Bond Interfacing and pin basting a layer of Quilters Dream Blend batting for an additional stabilizer. I gathered my hand embroidery needles, planning to enhance the machine stitched piece with embroidered French knots. I love to use Bohin size 5 Crewel – Embroidery needles when hand stitching with Aurifil thread.

In thinking about how I would finish the mini, I decided to keep it simple and “hoop” it. Lucky me!!  In checking through my quilty notions I uncovered the perfect size — a 5” hoop!! I traced the diameter of the hoop onto the muslin as a guide to keep my “art” well inside the space. I am no Kathy Ross – but I did do a quick pencil sketch of the leaves and the flowers on paper – and again on the face of the muslin.

After cleaning my machine, inserting a new 90/14 topstitch needle, lowering the feed dogs, and attaching a darning foot, I began the thread painting process by quilting the leaves with Aurifil color #1114 in 28wt using Aurifil 50wt in the bobbin. This step was encouraging! I always love the impact of using Aurifil 28wt thread. In the area where I wanted the leaf to be darker, I stitched several times with the same color thread.

To begin to thread paint the flower petals, I started with the medium hue from the Amalfi Collection color #2520 and roughed in the petals – taking care to stitch long strokes from the center of the petal outward and back again.   Once the overall design was stitched out I switched to the darkest color in the collection,  #2545 and added dark highlights. I wrapped up the free motion thread painting by adding some light colored highlights with color #2562. 50wt color #2562 worked great in the bobbin too!

For me, the process of dropping the machine feed dogs and moving the fabric under the needle is the perfect way to relax and have fun – especially when you’re trying to mimic an image but not necessarily duplicate it – the creative process at its finest. Equally as fun though, is adding hand embellished accents to the piece. Blending two different shades of Aurifil 28wt (#2140 & #2130),  I was able to hand stitch the wildflower stamens with French knots and straight lines. As I mentioned above, I love using the Bohin Crewel – Embroidery needle in size 5 for hand work with heavier weights of Aurifil thread.

Just look at the beautiful 3D effect made by the hand embellishments. Once completed, I centered the finished piece in a hoop and headed outside to take a few more fall shots.

Here’s to you finding some time to become one with nature this fall. Be sure to utilize the amazing array of color you have available in the Color Builder Collections.

Thanks so much to Karen for sharing this stunning project with us! She is hosting an Aurifil Color Card giveaway on her blog — click HERE to get in on the fun!

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Karen L. Miller, owner of Redbird Quilt Co. is an Aurifil designer, Aurifilosopher, national educator, author, and cheerleader of all things free motion quilting. She launched Redbird Quilt Co. to share her love of appliqué and show others how free motion quilting on home sewing machines can bring their projects to life. Karen plays with all weights of Aurifil thread and openly contributes her knowledge and experience to the greater quilting community.   When she’s not home enjoying the multitude of songbirds that grace the Finger Lakes Region of NY, you’ll catch her traveling the countryside sharing her passion for quilting with Guilds and Shops alike.

Karen and her husband Cliff own one crazy Yellow Nape Amazon parrot named “Cayman”. Their children are grown and they are blessed with 8 grandchildren, many of whom love to sew with Gramma Karen!

Interested in learning more about Free Motion Quilting?  Be sure to check out Karen’s Fall Lecture Series currently in its 3rd week.  Learn more by clicking on the image below!

The Subtle Sampler
Karen is a master at quilting with all weights of Aurifil thread. Her goal when creating The Subtle Sampler was to enable you to try each weight too.  You’ll love experimenting with the subtle 12wt, 28wt, 40wt and 50wt threads in the collection. Don’t miss her tutorial for The Subtle Tree right here on Auribuzz.

12 Large Spools
Clear Monofilament, Smoke Monofilament
12wt: 6722, 6723 || 28wt: 2430, 2130, 2880
40wt: 2530, 5017, 5006 || 50wt: 2312, 2000


  1. I love the technique that you used. Thanks for talking about using the stabilizer as well. I suspect it really helps.

  2. Your idea about taking time to be thankful every day really resonates with me. I find that if I am doing some stitching or quilting, spending quiet time focusing on something creative, probably something I am giving to someone else, my mind can more easily turn to the things in my life for which I am grateful.

    1. Hi Beth — The random generator choose your comment number this morning as the winner of the Aurifil Thread Color Card – Congratulations… !! When you get a minute please shoot me your contact information via email and I’ll get your package in the mail. karen at redbirdquiltco dot com will work just fine to reach me. Thanks so much for your kind comment and for entering the giveaway!

  3. I have done some thread painting but none this beautiful or dimensional. Thank you for the inspiration.

  4. This project uses colors like paint to give dimension. The final hand stitching is beautiful using Aurifil’s heavier threads.

    What I like is the thread is high quality with awesome color choices. When I clean the bobbin there is hardly any fuzz. That’s the sign of a quality thread.

  5. Inspiring, as always! Aurifil threads truly are high quality. I love that my bobbin area isn’t packed with lint even when I’ve been sewing up a storm.

  6. This is so very inspiring! It gives me courage. I don’t own any of this thread. Those cards look amazing!

  7. Beautiful Karen! I love the french knots! I loved that you used two different colors of thread for them! Great job! 🙂

  8. Aurifil is my favorite thread. I use it in almost every project!!! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful knowledge.

  9. I love your combination of thread painting by machine along with hand embroidery for additional texture! Wonderful use of some beautiful thread colors.

  10. I look for fall asters and golden rod mixed every year. You really captured it Karen. Love the colors

  11. This is the first time I have been to this sight, just found out about it yesterday. I am in awe and so inspired. Thank you

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