Shoreline Shells

We’ve been working with Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio for five fabulous years and she is truly just one of our favorites! Our very first collaboration resulted in a quilt that now hangs in our Chicago HQ. Sheri’s 270 Colors Quilt, commissioned in 2017 in celebration of Aurifil USA’s 10th year, features 270 foundation paper pieced Large Spools of Aurifil 50wt, each quilted with the coordinating color of thread. It was (and is) a total show-stopper.

Another favorite collaboration came early on in the Covid-19 pandemic. News circulated of a ray of hope sweeping through towns and cities across Italy. Children were creating works of art featuring a rainbow accompanied by the words, Andrá Tutto Bene (Everything Will be Okay) as a show of hope and resilience. Inspired by this story, we contacted Sheri to work with us in creating a pattern that could be offered to makers worldwide, so that they might create their own hope, to share or to savor in tough times. Sheri knocked it out of the park and we like to think that there are still Andrá Tutto Bene mini quilts adorning countless windows in countless communities all over the world. 

Suffice to say, we love working with Sheri! It doesn’t hurt that she is a fearless thread warrior and one of our treasured Aurifilosophers. Today, we’re excited to turn Auribuzz over to Sheri so that she might properly introduce her 2023 BOM, an homage to days by the sea, truly a new FPP masterpiece! Huge thanks to Sheri for sharing her insights!


Hello! I’m Sheri of Whole Circle Studio. Today I’d like to share with you my Shoreline Shells quilts, a Block of the Month (BOM) + quilt sew along that will be kicking off soon. I recently finished these quilt samples of Shoreline Shells, both entirely pieced and quilted with my favorite thread, Aurifil. The BOM includes instructions for two different block options. Quilters can decide which option they want to make depending on how they choose to arrange their blocks—in a circle arrangement or grid arrangement (or both). It’s like getting two patterns for the price of one! In addition, there’s lots of other opportunities for customization, including adding sea glass in the center of the circle layout.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Growing up on the east coast of the United States, the beach has played a big role in my life. Searching for shells and sea glass has always been one of my most favorite activities. I have containers of my found treasures throughout my home.

In early 2022, I started brainstorming and sketching ideas for a shell and sea glass quilt design. A beach themed quilt has been on my wishlist of projects for a while. I used my beach combing collection as a starting point for inspiration. Shoreline Shells is a quilt pattern celebrating the ebb and flow of the ocean and relaxing on the beach.

Once I decided on which 12 shells I wanted to feature in the quilt design, I took my preliminary sketches and drafted the foundation paper pieced (FPP) blocks. The awesome thing about FPP, other than it being incredibly precise, is that you can machine sew a few straight lines near one another at angles and then it looks like it’s a curve (or even a circle) and the seams are durable. I find that most quilters either love FPP or haven’t found the love for it — YET. Foundation paper piecing requires thinking about piecing in a different way than other quilt projects and every quilter approaches it slightly differently. I find that with a little bit of patience and practice, quilters can pick up on it and learn to love this technique. Need a tutorial (or refresher) on FPP? I have you covered with a free Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial/Mini Class

I foundation paper piece a lot, using Aurifil 50wt thread that matches my fabric. The 50wt is thin, allowing me to achieve flat seams when I press, yet is strong ensuring my seams remain securely sewn together after the paper is removed. 

Giving careful consideration to thread weights and colors can add detail and depth to our quilts, making them extra special. For the circle arrangement of my oversized throw quilt, I quilted just inside each shell using my walking foot and 12wt Aurifil cotton thread in a variety of colors (2310, 2710, 2415, 6001) and 50wt in my bobbin. For the background of the quilt, I quilted an echoing dodecagon, a 12 sided shape, using 28wt cotton in two colors (1158 and 2930) and 50wt in the bobbin.

For the grid arrangement in my twin sized quilt, I quilted just inside each shell, again with my walking foot and 12wt cotton thread (color 2310) and 50wt in my bobbin. In the background of the blocks, sashing, and borders, I quilted vertical lines 1/2” apart with 50wt cotton thread (color 2320).

Once I decide on a quilt layout, I often ask myself “What if?” and try to push the design a bit further. A design tweak or an additional detail makes a quilt design extra special. Because I love having options, let’s take a look at some of the color possibilities, fabric choices, and design variations for the Shoreline Shells quilt:

For quilters who like their blocks to be arranged in a more traditional grid or want to make blocks for other projects like runners, placemats, or to incorporate into other projects, there are lots of options in this pattern. The quilts shown above are made with Art Gallery Fabrics PURE Solids + Decostitch Elements. 

While I love negative space in quilts for the eye to rest, I was curious what the center of the circle option would look like filled with sea glass. For quilters who want an extra sea glass motif in the center of their circle Shoreline Shells quilt, an OPTIONAL pattern (sold separately) called Shoreline Sea Glass is available. The Shoreline Sea Glass pattern (also foundation paper pieced—FPP) includes instructions and patterns to make sea glass units for the center of the Shoreline Shells quilt. It also includes instructions for making a stand alone sea glass mini quilt. The quilts shown above are made with Grunge by Moda Fabrics and Sun Print 2023 by Alison Glass for Andover Fabrics. 

I had so much fun making both the circle and grid options of Shoreline Shells but that’s just the beginning! I’ll be sewing along with lots of other quilters from all over the world throughout 2023 —jump in at anytime as this is a low-stress BOM sew along and we’ll all be working at our own pace as we make our own Shoreline Shells quilts. All skill levels welcome, including adventurous beginners. During the sew along, I will be sharing FPP tips, tricks, and best practices on my blog.

I hope you’ll join us! Get all of the details and register here:

Stay connected! 
Subscribe to my newsletter: Three Things Thursday. Every other Thursday, I send out three things that I think are worth sharing — studio updates, quilting tips, and links to awesome things!

You can also find me on Instagram @wholecirclestudio 

and… in case you missed it, check out Sheri’s interview on Quilter on Fire with Brandy Maslowski. Simply click on the image below. 

1 comment

  1. Sheri, you are certainly a designer and educator to celebrate. Your attention to detail AND the nifty way in which you educate on the FPP technique has made this “non-piecer” a believer! I fell in love with FPP while doing your 2022 Flora BOM — thank you and congratulations on another AMAZING design. (PS – I love how you used Aurifil 12wt for your quilting !!)

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