Thread Matters 2021: Elevate Your Appliqué

Greetings fellow thread lovers! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m excited to host Aurifilosopher Jill Finley of Jillily Studios today! You can always count on Jill to share her fresh, bright designs, excellent tips, and that beautiful smile that says “it’s going to be a great day”!!  Besides being a treasured Aurifil Designer, Jill is a pattern designer, an author, and a fabric designer for Riley Blake Designs. Being a master at design and appliqué, Jill also has her own line of useful notions, kits and classes available in her Jillily Studio Shop. Huge thanks to Jill for sharing her sweet appliqué design and tips with us today.  

Aurifilosophy has gone Virtual!  Consider scheduling a virtual program for your shop, group, or guild. Learn more about Aurifilosophy and find your favorite Aurifilosopher here.  

Happy Stitching!

Karen L. Miller ~ Redbird Quilt Co.


Hello there! I’m Jill Finley from Jillily Studio. I have been an Aurifil Designer for many years and I am endlessly impressed with this wonderful thread. I LOVE Aurifil thread!! I am so excited to be able to share some of my Aurifil Love with you today. After all, February is all about love, right??   

The first time Aurifil exhibited at Quilt Market to introduce their beautiful threads to the quilt world, my booth was across from theirs. (Lucky me!) I went home with all kinds of gorgeous spools. When I ran out of what I had purchased at Market, I had to call Italy to get more. I almost had to learn Italian to get my order placed– and believe me, I would have done that! I had tried going back to what I was using before, but I was hooked on Aurifil’s fine, strong, lint free threads in all the gorgeous colors. Would you believe that was 20 years ago??

My go-to thread weight is the 50wt on the orange spool. I use it on my machine for piecing and also for hand stitching my appliqué. In my seams, the thin thread disappears into the fabric and doesn’t take up any room, making my piecing more accurate.  Did you know that not all 50wt threads are the same diameter? Aurifil’s fine 2ply threads are strong and dense and have the advantage of being much finer than 50wt 3ply threads. They are made using long staple Egyptian Cotton, which is the highest quality.

I designed a project to highlight my process for invisible appliqué. To get started, I’ve pulled a few fabrics to make this fun little block. Here’s my mix of greens, reds, corals, and dusty pinks in addition to my coordinating threads, Aurifil 50wt in 1147, 2425, 5002, and 2250.  

I prepped my appliqué pieces and glue basted them to my background.  (If you want to see my prep method, visit my website to see some tutorials.) 

Ok! Now that everything is ready to go, we can start stitching! I thread up my favorite needles (Bohin Applique-Size 11) and put on my Poke-A-Dot. (That’s a little sticky thimble that I put on my finger so I can push the back of my needle without getting poked.) 

When hand stitching applique, you want your thread to match the applique piece as closely as possible. Luckily, Aurifil has so many colors that this is easy to do. Here, I’m using 5002, which perfectly matches this yummy coral. 

I use a single strand of thread and tie a knot in one end. To start, come up from the back to the edge of the appliqué. Bring the needle out the fold on the edge of the appliqué piece, with the needle parallel to the background fabric.

You don’t want to bring your needle out the top of the appliqué piece because you will see the thread as it goes down into the background. Pull the thread up and turn your needle to go back down. To begin the next stitch, enter the background fabric right where you came out of the applique piece, don’t travel away from your stitch.  

Position your needle UNDER the appliqué piece a little bit– about 2 needle-widths. This will turn your edge down to meet the background and hide your stitches. This stitch has one other benefit– it creates a beautiful puff or lift on your appliqué piece.  

Can you see the nice curve and lift the stitching is creating on this piece? I started stitching at the bottom of the heart and went up the right side.  You can see that edge is turned down to meet the background and that gives the heart a little puff. 

I’m not done stitching yet, but it is going to be such a cute little wall hanging! I look forward to seeing what it will look like after it is quilted.  The quilting always adds such depth and helps to make my appliqué pop!  

If you want more stitching info, I have a Stitching Class available on my website. I’m also thrilled to offer this sweet project for free over on my blog. Click HERE to check it out and head HERE on my website to snag a kit! Gather your Aurifil threads and let’s have some fun!

Remember that I said it is important to match your thread to your applique?  It will help hide your stitches and give you beautiful results. That’s why I created these sets of Aurifil threads. The Quilter’s Palette includes 20 spools of a whole rainbow of 50wt for all of your projects. The small spools (220yds/spool) make the collection a more affordable way to obtain a wide selection of color and the spools are easy to take on the go! I also have a collection with the large spools—Signature Hues.  Twelve large spools of 50wt with 1422 yards each— delicious colors for all your sewing needs! I am offering 20% off all my thread collections this month on my website!

This has been so much fun! I love sharing my quilting life with you– I hope we can be friends!  Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

And of course, visit me on my website and blog for lots of tutorials and inspiration!

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