Thread Matters 2022: The Foliage Runner

Greetings Aurifil family! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m thrilled to introduce fellow Aurifilosopher Amy Friend of During Quiet Time. Amy, a former museum curator,  is applauded for a modern aesthetic that she folds into amazingly beautiful paper pieced designs. An author, national educator, designer, and award winning quilter, Amy is inspired by nature and I am in awe of the way she enhances her quilts with “just the right” fabric and color combinations. If you are drawn to modern designs, and enjoy gardening or nature, I am certain Amy’s style will inspire you to create something colorful and beautiful!  

In this installment of Thread Matters, Amy uses the 2022 March Color Builder Collection, Walking Palm, to investigate the use of variegated thread colors in her quilting. Pay special attention to Amy’s thoughts on how variegated threads can enhance her modern aesthetic. Many thanks to Amy for sharing with us today.  

Is your shop, group or guild looking for insightful, inspiring and educational information on thread? Consider booking a virtual or in-person program with one of our skilled Aurifilosophers. Learn more about Aurifilosophy and find your favorite Aurifilosopher here.  

Happy Stitching!
— Karen L. Miller

I am here today to share a project that I made using the Aurifil Color Builder Walking Palm collection. 

I thought that this would be the perfect occasion to use some of the many leaf foundation paper pieced blocks from my book, Petal + Stem. (My Petal + Stem curated Aurifil collection is also a perfect complement!)

Green is a challenging color.  Shades range from yellow-greens and lime to kelly green and evergreen, all the way to cool mint and blue greens.  Most greens fall into the cool category but the yellow-greens are warm.  This makes green unique.  It can be tricky to blend all those greens together, even though Mother Nature seems to do it effortlessly.

I paper pieced my leaves using the 50 weight 3320 thread.  50 weight is my go to thread for foundation paper piecing because it lays so flat in my seams.  Aurifil 50 weight thread is two ply while other companies’ 50 weight threads are generally 3 ply.  So it is actually thinner and it really makes a difference!    

I wanted to mimic nature and use a wide variety of greens in my table runner leaves.  I chose some warm greens and some cool greens.  I decided to use the variegated 4653 thread to quilt, in order to help pull these shades of green together.  The thread itself varies in color from a light, cool shade of green through a darker more yellowy green.  It helped unify all the greens used in the piecing.

Variegated thread isn’t something that I see used in modern quilting a lot, but I was thinking that perhaps it should be because it’s almost like adding an improvisational layer through quilting.  You don’t know quite where the darker thread will land and where the lighter thread will land.  They create a design element that is outside your ability to entirely plan and predict. It’s adding something unexpected.

I used the March Color Builders variegated thread Spring Prairie 4653 for quilting the foliage runner.  It’s common for me to use 40 and 50 weight threads almost interchangeably in my quilting, depending on what I have on hand.  In 2018 I used a 40 weight green variegated thread to quilt Plaited, an improv paper pieced design inspired by braids.   

Here’s a detail. I like the way it pulled the colors together here too, lending an improvisational/ unexpected feel to the negative space.

There are so many possibilities to create with variegated threads! I could see using a thicker weight thread, like the 12 or 28 weight, to stitch contrasting stem and veins onto leaves for a totally different look.  It’s fun to step out of our comfort zone and try something new.  Have you used variegated thread lately?

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Amy Friend is a former museum curator turned designer.  She designs modern quilts and specializes in paper pieced designs.  She authored the books Intentional Piecing (2016) and Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design (2017), and has a new book, Petal + Stem (2020).  Since 2019, Amy has run a paper pieced Block of the Month program each year.  She is an award winning quilter and her quilts have been exhibited at a number of quilt shows as well as museums.  Amy visits quilt guilds to speak about her quilts and to teach workshops.  For those who can’t attend a workshop, Amy now offers online workshops for individuals.  Those can be found on her website under “Online Workshops.” Amy lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. If she isn’t sewing or spending time with the family, you might find her in the garden.  You can follow her creative path on her blog, or on Instagram @duringquiettime.

**All images courtesy of Amy Friend. 

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