Thread Matters 2022: On the Fringe with Spider Lily

Greetings Aurifil family! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m thrilled to introduce Artist and Textile Illustrator Lorraine Turner of Calico Horses to Thread Matters. Today, we’re delighted to share her techniques for creating fringe in a project using Aurifil’s Spider Lily Color Builder featuring the stunning variegated hues. Huge thanks to Lorraine for sharing her artistic knowledge with us today!

Is your shop, group or guild looking for insightful, inspiring and educational information on thread? Consider booking a virtual or in-person program with one of our skilled Aurifilosophers. Learn more about Aurifilosophy and find your favorite Aurifilosopher here.  

Happy Stitching!
— Karen L. Miller

If you are someone who loves experimenting with texture then this blog is for YOU!

As an Aurifil educator I’m always looking for fun projects to help inspire students to use as many weights and colors of Aurifil threads as possible. Incorporating Aurifil variegated threads into the work quickly adds interest and a hint of light and shadow. 

I incorporated these delightful threads in my latest global humanitarian project, “Calico Horses for Kids,” utilizing my appliqué pattern of a galloping horse. I offer FREE monthly zoom sew-alongs to help people around the world create products for children in need. We are currently making quilts for Project Linus. The mane and tails of the horses were created with my favorite Aurifil Color Builder set, “Spider Lily.” The set comes with 3 large spools of Aurifil 50wt in colors #2024 (White), #4652 (Licorice Twist) and #4665 (Graphite). 

Fringe can be used in many sewing projects including clothing and home décor. I use fringe in various textile illustrations to create shaggy fur, flora and fauna.

Each time I sew I treat it as PLAY TIME as I never know what will happen until I TRY. There are two methods that I experimented with to create the horse’s fringe. I used the BERNINA #7 Tailor Tack foot and fed TWO spools of thread through the needle– #4665 (Graphite) and #1246 (Dark Grey)– and used #2692 (Black) 40wt in the bobbin. I used a Superior topstitch needle 90/14.  Note:  If you’re not working on a Bernina sewing machine, do a bit of research as many manufacturers offer a fringe foot.

If you look closely, you will see there are two threads in the needle. I used black fabric with a tear-away stiff stabilizer butted up against it. The upper tension has been loosened to 1. Using a zigzag stitch set to 5mm, the needle swings to stitch into both the fabric and stabilizer creating a hill as it stitches over a ¼” metal ridge on the Tailor Tack foot. After it’s stitched, the bobbin thread is carefully removed, the stabilizer is gently pulled apart yet kept loosely joined to the black fabric by the strands of upper threads.

Next, the tension was returned to normal and I switched to the BERNINA open embroidery foot #20. I tightened up the zigzag and stitched the fabric edge of the fringe to secure it. I then snipped the loops apart to give them a ragged look. The fringe was carefully cut away from the black cloth and loosely zigzag stitched onto the horses using black or white threads depending on the fabric I chose. 

The second method for creating fringe is stitching over water soluble stabilizer. I cut a piece of stabilizer 2” larger than the embroidery hoop. I traced a few rows of wavy lines with a marking pencil. 

I fed  the same two spools of thread into the machine exactly like the first method and I set the machine to stitch in a free-motion style. I dropped the feed dog,  began with a few tacking stitches in place and while lifting the needle and raising the pressure foot, I dragged the threads up to the line above. (The lines will disappear and are only used for a rough guide.) This method creates a longer fringe. Continue stitching row by row and be sure to crisscross the stitches at the base as this will help bind them together.  Finish by stitching some tight zigzag stitches at the base of the fringe. 

*Important note: If the stitches don’t cross, they will fall apart after you remove the stabilizer. Using the same technique, make long fringe for the tails. 

After you have completed stitching, remove from the hoop and cut away any excess stabilizer. Fill a small bowl with water and add one drop of dishwash. Place the stabilizer into the water and push it under. The soap helps to remove the excess glue that clings to the threads. Allow it to soak for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and allow it to dry. 

Next, cut the loops to allow the fringe to spread apart. When you are ready to add the mane and tails, loosely zig zag them onto the appliqué.

The horses in my project were created by experimenting with both of the variegated threads in the Aurifil Color Builder Spider Lily. I added dark gray, blacks and whites to give each horse a different look. 

I hope this inspires you to create fringe to embellish YOUR sewing projects. Be sure to mix it up using various colors and weights. The possibilities are endless to making YOUR art shine!

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Lorraine burst into the world of textile art in 2018 with a 26-piece special exhibit at IQF in Houston, just two years after creating her very first art quilt in 2016! In that time, she has become an Aurifil Designer & an Aurifilosopher, has been featured in Quilting Artsand Machine Quilting Unlimited magazines, has appeared on the Quilt Show with Ricky Tims, and teaches and lectures internationally.

She brings a lifetime of creative experience to her textile art. A commercial artist for forty years, Lorraine is the winner of two Emmy Awards as a lead designer for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the recipient of multiple awards at the San Diego International Comic-Con in her role as Art Director of the Library of American Comics.

The overriding passion behind her textile art comes from her activity as a professional animal communicator. She illustrates the conversations of all of the creatures she meets and uses her fabric art to raise awareness and funds for endangered animals. Look for hidden elements of plants and animals within Lorraine’s work, as she symbolizes the dynamic relationship between all species sharing the natural resources of our planet.

The clean lines, exaggerated color, and bold brushwork depicted in comics has also influenced her art—and you could say that endangered animals are her superheroes.

Lorraine works from her studio in Clearwater, Florida.

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