We’re dedicating this post to the world’s most endangered cat, the Iberian Lynx. With a population that rose from 94 in 2002, to 1,100 in 2022, they are living proof that extreme conservation efforts can be wildly successful. To learn more about the project that is making this difference, click here.
Aurifil’s Iberian Lynx thread set was created in tribute to this fantastic feline. It features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 mauve hues– a warm, a medium, and a dark. When purchased via Shop Aurifil, this set includes a custom designed foundation paper pieced PDF pattern by Aurifilosopher and pattern designer Cassandra Beaver / the (not so) dramatic life.
This block finishes at 16″ x 16″ and we’re simply in love!
We enlisted HollyAnne Knight of String & Story to share some tips and tricks for quilting this block. With her help and expertise, you’ll have this stitched up and on display in no time.
Hello again, Rockstars! Are you ready for month four of our amazing Endangered Species Block of the Month?? As always, I’m going to have suggested quilting plans and a video with tips for you today, but first, let’s talk a little about using multiple thread colors on a project, changing threads, and burying thread tails.
Using Multiple Thread Colors
It’s undeniable: using multiple thread colors just feels kind of fancy! And, honestly, if there’s a time to be fancy, it is on these animal blocks that you are putting so much love and time into piecing. I think one of the most wonderful things about this quilt along is the way there are 36 thread colors and 36 coordinating fabric colors, which allows for a lot of play when it comes to your quilting colors. By the end of the year, there will always be the option to match, but you have amazing chances to play with contrast, too! In my opinion, matching thread colors to your fabric is wonderful for creating subtle texture or nearly invisible stitching (such as when we stitch in the ditch to secure parts of the animals). Adding a little (or a lot!) contrast allows us to use simple FMQ to create depth and interest without the full effort of thread painting.
CHOOSING THREAD COLORS
One of the very best early tips I learned for choosing thread color was to actually unwind some thread from the spool. This is especially useful when choosing a single thread color to cover fabric areas of multiple colors because it provides a better visual on what thread will blend well. But, I use this technique almost every time I choose thread, even for solid backgrounds.
First, I narrow my thread choices to 2-3 colors. Next, I line the spools up and unwind 10-15 inches across the quilt. I like to position my quilt under natural, clear lighting and examine my options closeup and further away. This gives me an idea of how much my quilting will show up once stitched. Finally, I make my selection knowing that I have the best picture of how the thread and quilt will “play” together.
Note: keeping this process in mind is also valuable when considering quilting plan. Often, I draw my quilting plans with high contrast, even if I plan to use matching thread. Examining the quilting plan and my thread choices helps me more accurately picture the final result. When in doubt. Use some scrap fabric and batting to make a practice sandwich that matches your quilt and do a little stitching to see the actual effect.
WHAT ABOUT THE BOBBIN?
With 40 and 50 wt threads, I match my bobbin to my top thread. It makes it easier to achieve clean tension, even if it does take more bobbins in the sewing room (there are some darn cute organizing tools available these days though). If you are using the three shades available in a single Color Builders box, though, you might be able to get away with just putting the middle value in the bobbin. Just keep an eye on your tension and make sure you can’t see it through any needle holes.
BURYING THREAD TAILS
First, to answer the pressing question: yes, you can take a few stitches in place and trim your threads close to your quilt if you so desire. In fact, I know several award winning quilters who tie off their threads this way. But if you want to protect your stitching from extra wear and tear (we have quite a few pets at my house, not to mention rambunctious kiddos), or if you want to feel prepared for the first time your bobbin runs out mid FMQ, let’s talk about how to bury threads with a needle.
- First up, trim your thread ends to 3ish inches. If your bobbin ran out mid-stitching, you’ll want to gently pick the stitches back until both threads are 2-3 inches long. Next, either thread both tails through a big-eyed needle or create a lasso and thread through that. (A lasso is just a piece of thread knotted through the needle to form a loop that’s a lot easier to put around thread tails).
- Insert the tip of the needle where the thread tails emerge from the quilt.
- Pass the needle under the top, through the batting (NOT through the back of the quilt), for 1-1.5 inches.
- Poke the needle back out and draw the threads all the way through.
- Trim threads close to the quilt top and rub with your finger to nudge the ends into the batting.
Ta da! Easy as that! (Psst: watch the video below for a step by step visual walkthrough)
This month, I chose a handful of quilting motifs to mix and match: meander, switchbacks, woodgrain, square spirals, rainbows, and McTavishing. These motifs provide a variety of textures and challenges, and they could be combined in more ways even than I’ve demonstrated.
Introductory Level Quilting Plans
This month’s gorgeous Iberian Lynx by Cassandra Beaver has larger pattern pieces than the last couple of months (Red Panda & Sea Turtle), so it is a lovely change to quilt our critter itself again. I always love to include the meander as a background option because it is simple and fills easily. For those who are planning to quilt all of their animals together at the end of the year, it would be a clean way to fill all the backgrounds cohesively, even if you choose to change threads from block to block. Plus, it leaves lots of room for interpretation within each animal. Another interesting background or foreground option for the Lynx is woodgrain to imitate the grassy, shrubby environment in which it thrives. Square spirals are a third background option that adds visual contrast because of their stark, geometric feel. I included switchbacks for quilting the Lynx for folks who want to add some texture without densely quilting their carefully pieced animal.
Beginner Level Quilting Plans
If you have a little more experience under your belt, check out the textures we can create with this Beginner level quilting plan. These plans use the same motifs as the Introductory ones, but mix and match for heavier texture and more dense quilting.
Intermediate Level Quilting Plans
Since the pieces are bigger this month, my custom quilting loving heart is excited for the opportunity to pull in dense motifs like McTavishing and rainbows. McTavishing creates fluffy fur on the Lynx while rainbows are a background fill we haven’t used yet that add a fresh, modern feel to this sexy cat.
Aurifil’s 40wt Color Builders
If the Sea Turtle has you feeling inspired, you’ll be delighted to know that it’s one in a series of 12 mini collections, dedicated to some of our world’s most Endangered Species. Each collection features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 hues– a warm, a medium and a dark– and comes with a coordinating FPP pattern custom-designed by Cassandra Beaver.
Thanks so much to Cassandra Beaver for her stunning block design and to HollyAnne Knight for giving us all the quilting confidence to turn this block into a dazzling mini! this year? Stay tuned as we’ll feature one animal per month throughout this year. Will you sew along with us?
Don’t forget to tag us in your project images on Instagram– we love the opportunity to celebrate your work!
** If today’s quilting plans inspired you, but you’re brand new to free motion quilting, check out HollyAnne’s Intro to FMQ Mini Course to learn the basics!