Chris English is a magnificent quilter and artist based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK. He is well known for his use of recycled fabric, his passion for improv quilts, and for his eclectic use of fabrics and colour.
We’ve had the privilege of working with Chris for years, both as a dedicated user of Aurifil and an Aurifil Artisan. We were absolutely delighted when he approached us with an idea for a curated collection– a range of threads inspired by the eclectic graffiti art often found in urban landscapes.
“I absolutely love street art. The contrast of colour, pattern, scale, and different artistic styles constantly inspires me to go for it with my quilts and quilting. I also love how the art changes over time as new layers and beautiful textures are gradually revealed”.
“I love to use a mix of hand quilting and machine quilting in my work. By mixing thread weights, you can create beautiful contrasting textures that add amazing interest to your quilts”.
We can’t wait to see how this collection inspires quilters worldwide… to experiment with new thread weights, varying textures, organic shapes, and layered colors. How will Street Art inspire you?
2 SM Spools 80wt: 2860, 1148 || 2 SM Spools 50wt: 1200, 2120 || 2 SM Spool 28wt: 2725, 2530
2 SM Spools 12wt: 4647, 4648 || 2 SM Spools Floss: 1104, 2520
How did you first get started in this creative, maker-centric industry?
I kind of stumbled across quilting. I studied printed textile design at university and since then had always been interested in art, design, fashion, and anything creative. I had a go at making a simple brick quilt and was hooked from that moment! As I discovered more about quilts and quilting my passion for it developed. I love the process of making something from start to finish, from choosing fabrics to hand binding, I love every part of the process, except basting, I hate basting….
Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
From a quilting perspective I think the biggest inspiration are the Gee’s Bend quilts. I love looking at these quilts and every time I see a different one I get inspired! I love the colours and improv designs.
I was also fortunate to take a class with Luke Haynes early in my quilting journey, his approach really opened my eyes to what quilting could be. I cannot leave Sherrilynn Wood out… her book is amazing and super inspirational and she’s a thoroughly good egg as well. I was thrilled when Sherri asked me to be a guest speaker on one of her classes last year.
What is your favorite thing to make?
Quilts! I love trying new things techniques and ideas. My house is full of quilts and my son, Bailey, gets a quilt for birthdays and at Christmas… 😂😂😂 despite wanting beer and expensive trainers…
I don’t have the patience to make clothes but absolutely admire anyone who does!
What drives you to continue creating and innovating?
You can never have enough quilts, I love making new quilts and experimenting with new techniques and ideas. I’ve got so many more quilts I want to make. I’m also interested in collaborating with other artists and seeing how quilting might work with other art forms.
When did you first discover Aurifil Thread and why is it your go-to?
I was part of a quilting group at a local quilt shop (thank you Simply Solids gang!)… they explained the benefits and I was hooked! We even had Alex Veronelli from Aurifil come and give a talk about the manufacturing process, which was super interesting. Then, I discovered 12wt and was even more hooked. I love the quality and the amazing choice of colours.
What is your favorite weight thread to work with? Your favorite color?
12 wt is my absolute favourite and I love the nice big visible stitches that you get using it! It also looks great when you use it through the machine, and is a lot quicker than hand quilting. My favourite colour changes fairly regular but if forced to choose then it’d be super bright orange that’s in my collection.
Your debut Aurifil collection is a set of 10 Small Spools of varied thread weights. What inspired the collection and why was it important for you to include such a wide variety?
The choice of weights is really important, I wanted to enable people to try out the weights and create beautiful textures and quilting stitches. All of the weights can be used for multiple applications and you could even use them for piecing, but I think the colours are too beautiful not to be seen.
Drop some knowledge on us… what is your absolute top thread tip?
I’m guilty of ignoring this but I am trying to get better… when hand quilting don’t use too long a length of thread, I’ve got long arms and sometimes use too long a length, but after pulling through the quilt multiple times the thread can become a bit weaker. I reckon the optimal length is a bit longer than your forearm.
What are you hoping to see people create with this collection?
My main hope is that people will try something new and different and have fun experimenting with the different weights and express their creativity through how they use the thread. I love quilts so to see the thread used in a quilt that will become a loved family treasure is so exciting.
We always love seeing your location photos, with the street art that inspires you featured in the background. Are there particular artists that you see around more than others? Where is your favorite spot for street art?
I love taking my quilt pics at the skatepark, and the street art is always changing, so lots of new backgrounds to use!
Austin, Texas, has an amazing street art scene. I did a walking tour in Feb 2020 (I even managed to get sun burnt) and was blown away by the amazing art and variety. My favourite is @el_federico, a stencil artist with an incredible use of colour and imagery. His words are dotted around Austin and it was fun looking for his pieces (stopping at bars on the way) and finding them. His style is very distinctive.
What are your plans for 2021 and where can we find you for more inspiration?
I’m super hopeful life returns to being a bit normal and I can do more teaching and travelling. My dream is a quilting road trip across the US, stopping at loads of interesting places and sharing my love of quilting.
I’m also keen to go back to designing fabric and to start thinking about a range of fabrics designed to work with recycled fabric and encourage people to use their stash and make quilting a more sustainable process.
Cats or Dogs: Dogs. The bigger the better.
Shoes or Barefoot: Barefoot
Country or City: City, especially NYC.
Camping or Glamping: Camping
To the Mountains or to the Sea: Sea… but not overly keen on the beach.
Favorite Notion: Good embroidery scissors.
Go-to sewing room playlist: Anything a bit punky
Current binge-worthy show: Mare of East Town
FOQ Bonus Round:
What do you love most about Festival of Quilts?
I absolutely love Festival of Quilts, it’s my favourite show, I especially love that it’s not juried so anyone can enter their quilt, which I would encourage everyone to do, it’s amazing seeing your work on show and it always sparks some interesting conversations.
How long did it take you to get there? It took about 3 hours, a couple of train journeys, which I rather enjoy. And it gave me the time to answer these questions.
Where and when will we find you?
I’ll be at the Aurifil stand each day talking about my collection, I’m also teaching three classes, making my debut appearance on Sewing Street tv show! And the rest of the time I’ll be walking the show admiring quilts. Please say hi if you see me!
Do you have a favorite festival destination?
The various exhibits are my favourite destination, I’m particularly looking forward to the International Quilt Museum exhibit of Amish quilts, I’ve seen Amish quilts before at QuiltCon in Austin and fell in love with them, so cannot wait to see more of them.
Find Chris on Instagram @afullenglish