Meet the African Penguin

African penguins may not be in the freezing temps of other penguin species, but they still have a coat of black, white, & grey waterproof features that keep them dry and warm in the cold waters off the African coast. They are typically found in large colonies along the coast of Africa from Namibia to Port Elizabeth, and many of the surrounding islands.

These days, their populations are at risk. Breeding pairs numbers in the millions in the early 20th century, down to a suspected 10,000 today. Habitat loss, over-fishing, and coastal development are the key factors contributing to this decline. We’ve seen impressive conservation efforts underway, including at the San Diego Zoo, who currently have the beginning of what they hope will develop into a large flock over the next couple of years. Click HERE to learn more. (info via the San Diego Zoo)

Aurifil’s African Penguin thread set was created in tribute to adorable creatures. It features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 perfectly neutral hues— a warm, a medium, and a dark— 2021, 2625, & 2692. 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. 

African Penguin Quilting Inspiration

Can y’all believe that we have arrived at the end of our Endangered Species Block of the Month?? It has been an amazing journey of beautiful thread, interesting animals, foundation paper piecing, and free motion quilting. Thank you so much for quilting along with us this year! As we wrap up, I’d like to leave you with some suggestions for quilting samplers, especially for those of y’all who are planning to put all your blocks together.

Let’s take a look: 


Sampler quilts are like puzzles— you work on this bit and that part and then all at once it comes together— WOW! The sense of accomplishment when you unfurl that finished top is real. Well done!

But if you quilt your own quilts, the next emotion may come just as quickly: “How the heck do I quilt it??” As with any quilt, you have three options: 1) an all over design/ pantograph 2) A semi-custom quilting plan and 3)  fully custom quilting. And, yes, I do have some specific tips on how to do each type of quilting plan when working with a sampler.

All Over Design

My very unofficial poll results suggest that this is the most common choice folks make when quilting their own samplers. You’ve put so much into the piecing that 1) You’re ready to snuggle that quilt already! and 2) You are nervous that if you don’t love the quilting you choose then it will “ruin” your quilt— or at least leave you feeling frustrated and out of love with something that took a heck ton of work. If all over designs or pantos are generally your jam (especially those cool pantos Jess Zeigler makes), rock on with your bad self! But if you know that you’re leaning towards a simple quilting plan out of fear or uncertainty, keep reading!

Semi-Custom Quilting Design

A Semi-Custom Quilting Plan just means that you’re using 2-3 motifs. It’s not a fully custom, more is more situation, but it’s got a little sparkle. For many samplers, this means you’ll choose a motif for each block, a motif for the sashing, and a motif for the border. That could change a bit if the quilt has a funky layout, but you get the idea.

Custom Quilting Design

As the name probably tells you, these quilting plans are rather THE MOST— at least that’s how they look. These are the ones that make you step closer when you see them hanging because you want to figure out exactly how the quilter did that sashing and what stitches made that cool texture in the border. While some custom quilting plans are every bit as complicated as they look, I also love an option that is a bit more like the “dump cake” version— you know, the cake that looks and tastes great but is so much easier to bake than you thought? 

Essentially, if I am wanting a custom quilting plan but don’t want the process to be completely overwhelming, I choose 4-6 motifs to act as my “palette” for the quilt, and I make “rules” for how they will be used (ex: ribbon candy is for the sashing, woodgrain is for the background, continuous curves are for triangles, etc). Then, I mix and match these motifs, following my rules as I work my way across the quilt. The result is that every block is quilted a little differently, but everything looks like it “goes” together. 

I hope that after reading this, you’ll be excited to do something a little more adventurous on your sampler. Getting creative with quilting each block of a sampler can be just as fun as getting to piece something a little different each time. Oh, and for this sampler specifically, remember that those FPP animals are still pretty thick in spots, so a lot of your more detailed quilting may need to be reserved for the backgrounds, sashings, and borders. Feel free to mix and match from the quilting plans I’ve drawn for you throughout the year!

Suggested Quilting Plans

And finally, our last set of suggested quilting plans for our adorable penguins. While we often think of penguins as cold weather birds, these adorable ones live in the warm waters of South Africa. They eat primarily fish and squid, and, hilariously, are also called the jackass penguin because their call sounds like a braying donkey. 

Introductory Level Quilting Plans

Introductory Level Quilting Plan

Throughout this year, I have drawn a simple meander in the background of each block. I love custom quilting, but sometimes it is good to remember to let your piecing shine all on its own with just a simple background. It’s also a reminder that you don’t have to stitch the most complicated quilting plan in order to FMQ your own quilts and have them look wonderful!

Beginner Level Quilting Plans

Something about these little penguins just begged to be standing on a pebbled ground. I paired pebbles in each quilting plan with a different additional background motif– the square spirals might be the buildings of Capetown, the wavy lines may be a calm ocean surf, or maybe the paisleys are some beachside greenery.

Intermediate Level Quilting Plans

Finally, these little lovebirds deserved a sweet feathered heart. Do you see it right between their faces? I also played around with adding a bit of McTavishing to their stomachs for a little extra visual interest.


Aurifil’s 40wt Color Builders

If the African Penguin 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 these blocks into a dazzling quilt and minis this year! We’ve had so much fun with the whole series!

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!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: