Meet the Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tigers are a subspecies of Sunda Tigers, which also encompassed the now extinct Javan and Bali tigers. They are distinguished by heavy black stripes on their orange coats and generally weigh between 165 – 310lbs. There are fewer than 400 of these fierce felines remaining within patches of forest on the Island of Sumatra. Their biggest threats are accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching.

The island of Sumatra is the only place where tigers, rhinos, orangutans, and elephants live together in the wild. The presence of the Sunda tiger is an important indicator of a forest’s health and biodiversity. Protecting tigers and their habitat means many other species benefit—including people. To read more, click here.

Aurifil’s Sumatran Tiger thread set was created in tribute to this majestic beast. It features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 hues of orange— a warm, a medium, and a dark— 2214, 1133, & 1104. 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 are 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. 

The dreaded WONKY BLOCK. We’ve all made quilts where there is that one block that came out a little weird and needs a little extra love to look nice when finished. With all the seams of foundation paper piecing, it’s pretty likely that could happen during this block of the month– and that’s not a knock on you, Rockstar, it’s just how it goes sometimes. Instead of stressing about all the work it would take to fix the piecing, let’s talk about how to use free motion quilting to coax it into lying flat and pretty during the quilting process!

Massage Quilting

Yep, you read that right. When I’ve got a wonky block, rather than being mad at it or thinking about keeping it in line (so violent sounding!), I massage it. Coax it. Cajole it. (This is kind of like the principle of sweet talking a finicky printer. Surely I’m not the only one who has had one of those??). FMQ “shrinks” or “eats” fabric, making it an ideal way to charm those wonks and wrinkles flat. 

First step: the sooner you can identify a weird block (or section), the better.

The hardest thing is when you don’t realize something funky is up until you’re part of the way through the block. To be honest, this is where a longarmer has a bit of an “advantage” because if something doesn’t lay flat, it will show up on the frame pretty quickly. If quilting on a domestic, pay attention during basting. Keep your quilt as square as possible and notice if there are any blocks that are a little wonky or have extra fabric.

One common situation is for a block to be about 1/4-1/2” too big, but trimming would cut off points or important edges. I generally choose, even if I know this before putting the quilt top together, to ease it into the other blocks or sashing of the quilt and anticipate the need to massage it during quilting to hide the extra fabric.

When you get to the weird block during your quilting, stitch in the ditch around the block to hold it square and in line with the rest of the quilt.
After stitching in the ditch, it is likely the center of the block will be puffy or wrinkly with extra fabric. That’s okay! We are going to use a dense quilting motif to “eat” that ease. Now, honesty moment: this technique is harder with looser/ all over designs, and you’re more likely to get pleats and puckers that way. It’s not impossible, but a denser motif will work better.

Next, secure any major areas of the block, especially if you plan to leave them unquilted. In other words, decide what part of. the block is going to “carry” the extra fabric and corral it there with more stitch in the ditch.

Densely quilt the areas with the extra fabric in order to massage it into the stitching. My favorite dense motifs include woodgrain, switchbacks, tight meanders, pebbles, and small swirls.

Continue quilting the rest of the block, alternating between stitch in the ditch and other motifs as fitting.

Ta da!

Quilting Plans

The Sumatran Tiger is the last living tiger species in the Indonesian islands, severely threatened by habitat loss due to expanding palm plantations and poaching for teeth, bones, and furs. It is distinct because of its close black stripes, dark orange coat, and fluffy beard and mane. Conservation efforts include captive breeding programs and, in Indonesia, a religious fatwa (ban) on poaching. (Source: National Geographic) 

Introductory Level Quilting Plans

This month’s intricate Sumatran Tiger foundation paper piecing pattern by Cassandra Beaver keeps the viewer’s eyes on the tiger’s stripes and captivating eyes, with much less space for intricate FMQ. A simple meander or loopy meander background with stitch in the ditch or a few switchbacks on the tiger is perfectly sufficient for securing and showing off your piecing. 

Beginner Level Quilting Plans 

If you’re like me, I understand the urge to add more texture to the background. I like pebbles to offset all the angles of the tiger’s stripes or square spirals to echo the regal quilting I chose for the tiger’s feline cousin, the Iberian Lynx. 

Intermediate Level Quilting Plans

Finally, why not a feather “halo” to “crown” this majestic tiger and to imitate the dense forest centers where it prefers to live? And, for the brave and glide foot owning among us, a few ideas if you want to McTavish part of the tiger’s face for some extra texture besides stitch in the ditch.


Aurifil’s 40wt Color Builders

If the Sumatran Tiger 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!

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