Meet the Pangolin

Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world. There are eight species of Pangolins found over two continents, ranging from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered. Sadly, they are widely sought after in Asia and Africa for their meat and scales, and even in the US for their leather to be used in boots, bags, and belts. There are extreme conservation efforts underway– WWF and their partners are working to stop the extinction of this elusive mammal.

Pangolins are easily recognized by their full armor of scales. They have impressive defensive techniques and will roll up completely into a ball if touched or grabbed. They are solitary and mostly nocturnal. Often called scaly anteaters due to their primary diet, these creatures are unique and fascinating and are in need of our protection. To learn more, click here (WWF).

Aurifil’s Pangolin thread set was created in tribute to this scaly and amazing creature. It features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 hues of brown— a warm, a medium, and a dark— 2312, 6010, & 2360. 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. 

Pangolin Quilting Inspiration

Last month, I taught y’all all about FMQ feet for your machine. Now, you’ve seen me use a ruler foot for free motion quilting, but today I’d like to teach you a tiny bit of rulerwork to add to your quilting skill repertoire. Quilting with a ruler is a great way to add smooth shapes or straight lines to your quilting without having to switch to a piecing foot. While the bulky seams of foundation paper piecing may give us a little challenge in the “smooth” department, this month’s Pangolin is still a great opportunity to try out a new skill. 


Get the right equipment

You will need both a specialty foot and a specialty ruler in order to do rulerwork on your sewing machine. Do not, under any circumstances, use a hopping foot and a cutting ruler! It is very dangerous, and you could end up with broken equipment or a serious injury. A ruler foot is a metal circle with ¼ inch high sides and pairs with a quilting ruler. This way, the ruler and the foot bump up against each other without the ruler coming into contact with the needle. I recommend checking with your dealer or machine manufacturer to purchase this foot.

Practice on a swatch

If you’re learning a new free motion quilting motif, I’d recommend you make a practice sandwich and warm up before working on your quilt. This lower-stakes sewing allows you to understand how the motif works and know what parts feel tricky before you do the real thing. The same is true when working with a ruler– I’m demonstrating little scallops for you this month, but I suggest just starting with straight lines or “ruler assisted switchbacks.” Get the hang of moving your quilt sandwich and your ruler at the same time before you are also working with bulky seams. 

Safety First

In addition to having the proper foot and ruler, also be sure to keep your fingers well away from the needle. Working on small sandwiches without piecing seams gives you the opportunity to learn how to control the ruler to keep your fingers safe. Additionally, refrain from rushing as you work with a ruler, and if you need to navigate a seam, move your ruler out of the way so you’re less likely to have a slipping ruler and flying fingers as your foot comes off the “bump” of the seam. 

Suggested Quilting Plans

Confession: I had to Google Pangolins. It’s not that I had never heard of them, but I had no idea what they actually looked like or where they lived. In case you are also a Pangolin novice, here’s a few fun facts: Pangolins are scaly mammals with diets similar to that of anteaters. When threatened, they will roll up in a ball like an armadillo, exposing sharp scales to their enemy. Their scales, skin, and meat are considered valuable, which means Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world and are critically endangered.

Introductory Level Quilting Plans

Introductory Level Quilting Plan

A Pangolin’s scales are its most distinctive feature, so I focused on motifs to create a scaly shape in this month’s quilting plans. In this intro level plan, swirls can be stacked across the body of the Pangolin to imitate its armored plates. 

Beginner Level Quilting Plans

Paisleys, one of my very favorite quilting motifs, are wonderful both on our Pangolin and in the background. Notice how playing with the scale of the paisleys really changes the effect. Smaller, more tightly stitched paisleys create a classic filler motif, while larger, swooping paisleys add dimension to our Pangolin.

Intermediate Level Quilting Plans

And, of course, the option for rulerwork. I used Natalia Bonner’s 4-n-1 ruler to create scallops on my Pangolin then filled each scale with a swirl for additional texture and depth. Don’t expect these scallops to be perfect as this may be your first ruler work project, and there are plenty of seams, but also don’t be afraid to give this new skill a go. This Pangolin block is just the right size to try something new!


Aurifil’s 40wt Color Builders

If the Pangolin 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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