Meet the Cross River Gorilla

The Cross River Gorilla has been marked as Critically Endangered, with only about 200 to 300 of them left in the wild. There are at least 11 groups of Cross River Gorillas across the lowland montane forests and rainforests of Cameroon and Nigeria, an area of 3,000 square miles, or about twice the size of Rhode Island.

This precious habitat has been increasingly threatened by a growing human population, clearing forests for timber and to create fields for farming. Cross River gorillas are also at risk for poaching. 

Efforts to protect these animals are focused on securing the forests that house them. WWF and partners have worked with the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria to create a protected area for the Cross River gorilla that spans the border of these two nations. (Source: WWF)

Aurifil’s Cross River Gorilla thread set was created in tribute to this elusive and regal creature. It features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 hues of purple— a warm, a medium, and a dark— 2562, 2520, & 2545. 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 is incredibly stunning!

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. 

Throughout our time together, I have used a variety of FMQ feet to quilt our Endangered Species blocks. In fact, there are dozens of sewing machine feet choices for all the different tasks and techniques you can stitch on modern sewing machines. But which ones are best for free motion quilting, and how do you decide which one is best for the stitching you have planned? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular choices.

Types of Feet

Hopping Foot

Hopping Foot

This is the most common type of free motion quilting foot. It is usually made of a plastic or metal oval that rests gently on the fabric (This oval can be complete— called a closed toe foot— or have a section open at the front— called an open toed foot). It has an arm that rests on the screw of the machine shank and a spring that causes the machine to “hop” up and down as the needle moves. I love this foot because it’s easy to find one to fit your machine (knowing if you have a “high shank” or “low shank” is the most important step), they provide good visibility, and they are inexpensive.

Ruler Foot

Ruler Foot

A ruler foot is crucial if you want to use a quilting ruler to create straight lines or special curves on your quilt (learn more about quilting with a ruler HERE. A quilting ruler is 1/4” thick so that it cannot slip over or under the high sides of the ruler foot. A ruler foot is a metal circle 1/4” high. If you are new to using this foot, it can feel like it only offers limited visibility. It becomes easier to use for FMQ with practice, however, and is handy because it allows the quilter to switch seamlessly back and forth between freehand FMQ and ruler quilting (or using a ruler for guided stitch in the ditch). I recommend checking with your dealer or machine manufacturer to purchase this foot.

Glide Foot

Glide Foot

This foot is also called a “spoon foot” because it looks a whole lot like someone took a deep plastic spoon and punched a whole through the center. All of the other FMQ feet have some sort of “edge” that has to pass over the fabric, but this food is specifically designed to “glide” right over bulkier seams making for a better FMQ experience. I especially recommend this foot if you make a lot of traditional style quilt with heavier seams. I recommend checking with your dealer or machine manufacturer to purchase this foot.

Darning Foot

Darning Foot

The darning foot is one of the more generic FMQ feet on the market because it is also designed to be used with machine embroidery or free hand machine embroidery. In my experience, this foot doesn’t move quite as smoothly because of how the edges are shaped, and it’s important to make sure your presser foot is down before lowering your needle. If this foot comes with your machine, it’s a perfect way to start experimenting with FMQ, but if you’re going to buy a foot, I’d start with a hopping or ruler foot instead.

If you’re brand new to free motion quilting, I recommend starting off with a hopping foot— the clear type if you can find it for your machine. Ultimately, I recommend all quilters who quilt all or most of their quilts add the ruler foot and glide foot to their collection as well. It just makes doing each of those different jobs so much easier!

Suggested Quilting Plans

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are only a few hundred Cross River Gorillas left in the forests of Cameroon & Nigeria. One of the best ways to protect these gorillas is to protect the forests and rainforests where they live. 

Introductory Level Quilting Plans

The detail of our endangered species blocks continues to be one of my favorite things about this BOM. Simple quilting lets the piecing shine, and all these shades of purple in this month’s block create gorgeous visual depth. 

Beginner Level Quilting Plans

Since we are discussing quilting feet this month, I thought it would be interesting to introduce some ruler work designs into our quilting plans. A straight ruler can be used to make a simple grid background, or you could mark a grid with chalk and use a curved ruler to add continuous curves to the background. 

Intermediate Level Quilting Plans

Finally, there is always the option of more textured quilting for both the background and our gorilla. The feather meander is reminiscent of rainforest vines, McTavishing imitates coarse gorilla hair, and a rulerwork background can help a complex foreground shine. 


Aurifil’s 40wt Color Builders

If the Cross River Gorilla has you feeling inspired, don’t forget 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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