A Festival of Quilts

One of our favorite events of the Summer year after year is the Festival of Quilts, in Birmingham, UK. It’s our chance to reconnect with industry partners, shop owners, and designers. We love checking out the exhibits, strolling the hall, and popping into all of the stands.

This year, Aurifil is at Stand A10, so if you happen to be at the show, we hope that you’ll visit — you’ll have a chance to meet Jenni Smith & Kay Walsh, two of our absolute favorites who have organized all of the magic at the stand!

For those who aren’t able to attend, we wanted to do something to bring a bit of the magic home. So, today, we’re highlighting some of Aurifil’s amazingly talented UK-based Designers. Perhaps you’ll discover someone new, or fall a bit more in love with a long time favorite.

The Kaffe Collective

In this amazing industry of ours, there are a few designers who are unequivocally known as industry icons… Those who have forged their own way in the world of design, who stay engaged and ever creative, and who have built a dedicated tribe of followers. Kaffe Fassett is one of those remarkable people. A man who has inspired creatives across the globe with his colorful work in not only fabric, but also in knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting, and mosaic. Kaffe works with a brilliant team of designers known as The Kaffe Collective. As both indiviuals and as the collective, they’ve navigated some remarkable partnerships over the years, including a glorious range of curated thread sets with Aurifil.

In Kaffe’s words:
I don’t sew that much myself but I love the colours of the Aurifil threads – I’m always suggesting colours to my sewers to use in a way that shows the thread colour – say red against green or vice versa.

Jo Avery

We fell in love with Jo Avery‘s work years ago and we’re pretty sure she may have fallen in Aurilove right around the same time. Stitching with Wool is her 4th curated set with us and is the perfect follow-up to her 2019 collection, Modern Crewel Work. Ten small spools of Aurifil’s wool 12wt = a box full of endless possibilities. Both collections partner perfectly with Jo’s C&T release, Modern Crewel Embroidery.

In Jo’s words:
The wool thread is amazingly versatile. Not only does it work so well for crewel embroidery but I also use it for both hand AND machine quilting. It’s softer and a little finer than 12wt cotton and is easier on my hands for big stitch quilting. 

Sheena Norquay

Renowned Scottish textile artist Sheena Norquay pays tribute to her late mother’s love of wild grasses with her latest collection release. Featuring 10 small spools of Aurifil’s 28wt thread, Wild Grasses is the perfect box for makers looking to enhance their thread painting with added definition. As always, Sheena shows off the thread’s luminescence through her remarkable free motion quilting.

In Sheena’s words:
This collection was inspired by photos I took during the lockdown in 2020 of wild grasses growing beside the Caledonian Canal near Inverness and also of photos taken of wild grasses in Orkney several years ago. I remember my late mother’s love of wild grasses and have a photo of her sitting among a tall clump of grasses on the family farm in Orkney. Her appreciation of them has influenced my attraction to their subtle colours and graceful movements.

Sarah Hibbert

Quilter Sarah Hibbert finds inspiration in the everyday objects around her. Her unique approach includes using readily available, recyclable materials for paper collage, then she takes this design as the springboard for her quilts. From Collage to Quilt, her debut book with Lucky Spool Media, is the first craft book of its kind, combining the disciplines of paper collage and quilting. Sarah’s debut Aurifil thread set is the perfect companion, offering all the threads needs to stretch the limits of your own creativity.

In Sarah’s words:
I have been using Aurifil for many years, but not to its full potential until lately. I have always used it for piecing and straight-line walking foot quilting. With the introduction of the lovely heavier threads within the Aurifil range, I am now adding additional quilt lines and few extra spots of colour. With my hand quilting pieces, I have always used the heavier weight of Aurifil. My calling card on these pieces is to add two red stitches, and the Aurifil Floss colour number 2250 fits the bill perfectly.

Nicholas Ball

We’ve been in love with Nicholas Ball‘s quilty improvisation from the moment we laid eyes on his Instagram account. Colorful, unique, artistic, creative… we seriously can’t get enough. Use & Ornament, his 2nd curated set for Aurifil, showcases the threads that he uses to both support and star. The lighter weights are perfect for piecing, whilst the depth and texture of the heavier 12wt can add a richness to any project. 

In Nicholas’s words:
Use & Ornament is my love letter to improv quilting.  Part history book, part technique book, it is an exploration of the improv quilt through historical and contemporary examples. Quilts have long been more than objects of utility. Their uses are varied and many past examples now merit elevation to works of art. The quilt can give voice to political protest; can memorialise a loved one; can be a cathartic outlet and still hold its own against works realised in more recognised fine art media. They are historical documents and family keepsakes, having long existed within a duality of use and ornament. To showcase this, the techniques included arm quilters with many ways to tell their own stories.

Sarah Ashford

We are so grateful to have met Sarah Ashford of Sarah Ashford Studio. She is an absolute delight and we truly jump at the chance to work with her for each new collection she presents. When Sarah came to us with news of her book with C&T, Jump into Patchwork & Quilting, and an idea for a coordinating collection, we knew it would be a blast! Sarah is so knowledgable and encouraging, we had absolutely no doubt that the book would be an instant hit. For her 3rd Aurifil set, Sarah chose a 5 Small Spool box with all of her go-to 50wt colors… essentially everything a maker might need to work through the projects in her book.

In Sarah’s words:
I wanted to curate a small box that would be a great ‘starter set’ for the beginner quilter, and the perfect accompaniment to the book.   I’ve included 3 neutral threads which are ideal for almost all piecing and quilting – you can never have too many neutral threads in my opinion!  The pink and a turquoise are not only my favorite colors, they are great for topstitching and adding a pop of color to your work as well.  

Karen Lewis

Weekend strolls around Hampton Court were the inspiration behind this new collection by epic screen printer Karen Lewis (Figo Fabrics). From the elaborate ironwork in the ornate gates to the cobblestones throughout the paths and courtyards to details from the unstructured grasslands and wild meadows in the neighboring Royal Parks– all are celebrated in Hampton court. Karen curated a set of 5 small spools of Aurifil’s 50wt thread to coordinate– perfect for creating all sorts of Quilty magic!

In Karen’s words:
Aurifil offers such diversity whilst being the best quality you can buy. I love that about Aurifil, that you have so much choice without compromising on quality.

Chris English

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.

In Chris’s words:
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.

Jenny Jackson

Jenny’s enthusiasm and passion for her craft is infectious. She has been a magnificent champion for Aurifil thread for years, with a particular focus on our super fine and strong 80wt thread. She swears by it for her go-to method of EPP, utilizing as many of our 88 colors as she can get her hands on. We were thrilled to partner with her on a curated collection of must-have hues to perfectly coordinate with her debut book, English Paper Piecing Workshop (David & Charles). The collection is a colorful combination of neutrals and brights, certain to take makers through a myriad of projects! 

in Jenny’s words:
I first discovered Aurifil Thread when I was working on Sewing Quarter quite a few years ago, I first started using the 50wt in my machine and it just sewed like a dream and made a huge difference to the finish of my designs. Since then I have also totally fallen in love with the 80wt thread for English Paper Piecing, it is just perfect in every single way for this technique.

Jenni Smith

A super skilled sewist and quilter, Jenni has a quick wit, a sweet sense, a warm heart, and a sparkle in her eye. She is a true quilty champion, constantly exploring new ideas and techniques, supporting the quilting community, and throwing herself fully into each new project. Understanding her passion and drive, it’s easy to see how she came to research and author a book like Quilting with Liberty (Lucky Spool). A love letter to Liberty Fabrics, Jenni heralds the history, highlights the iconic prints, and gives us all an opportunity to see Liberty through her adoring eyes. Her Aurifil collection features ten darling spools of Aurifil 50wt, selected to highlight the fabrics and projects found within Quilting with Liberty.

In Jenni’s words:
50wt is the perfect match for Liberty Tana Lawn™ which is exceptionally high quality long-staple cotton and I used it to piece all of the quilts in my book. It is equally great for the Lasenby cotton which is a little heavier and more like a traditional quilting base cloth. It was used to quilt many of the projects too and obviously I was spoilt for choice with so many thread colours in your collection. 

Liberty London Fabrics

This custom designed box is everything we wanted out of a Liberty collaboration. A sweet signature floral wrapped around a bespoke style box opens to reveal 12 large spools of Aurifil’s versatile 50wt thread. While the spools were selected to partner with Liberty’s first line of quilting cottons, The English Garden, they are intended to coordinate with a wide range of Liberty fabrics, from the classic Tana Lawn™ cottons to luxurious silks; corduroys and soft jerseys to wool. This is a collector’s piece, representing pure class partnered with upscale utility.

Feeling inspired? We would encourage you to explore via the designers’ websites and social accounts.

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